Wednesday, October 3, 2012

French Onion Fondue


Two weeks ago I got to spend a long weekend visiting some of my girlfriends in Chicago. The night I arrived the girls had an amazing girls' night planned and we had a fabulous evening out on the town. We started our night with dinner and drinks at Maude's Liquor Bar and I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the food.

You may not know this about me but I am one picky eater. I don't eat red meat; I am allergic to shellfish; I only like fish raw; I hate ranch dressing; I don't eat tomato sauce of any kind and other than salad and a few basics, I don't care for fruits and veggies. So going to new (and fancy) restaurants gives me a mild case of anxiety.

Maude's menu is based in traditional French cooking and at first glance I didn't see anything I thought I would like. But on further inspection, I realized I wanted to try EVERYTHING. And we did. We tried Pomme Frites (twice), Roasted Chicken, Cassoulet, Green Beans, Smashed Potatoes, Gnocchi, and the French Onion Fondue. Oh, the French Onion Fondue....



I thought about that meal all weekend. I would have gone back the next day and had the exact same dinner if that was socially acceptable. And while I thought about all the dishes, I couldn't get the French Onion Fondue out of my head.

Even with all my food weirdness, I love French Onion Soup but inevitably I always end up eating the gooey, cheesy top layer off first and then fishing out all the croutons before I even get to the broth. Maude's French Onion Fondue is basically the best part of its soup counterpart served on slices of crusty, French bread. Does it get better than that? Cheesy goodness on bread is right up my alley. (Remember my Swiss Cheese Bread Dip?)

The minute I got home I hit up Pinterest in search for the recipe and I was prepared to search long and hard for it. Turns out Tasting Table featured this decadent dish and it was the very first thing that popped up when I searched French Onion Fondue. Yessssss.

Justin digging in!
Now I just needed a reason to make it. Enter our friends Carrie and Chet. They invited us to dinner last weekend and when I asked Carrie what I could bring, she said that words I was hoping to hear (or read in a text). "Would you mind bringing an appetizer?"   Done and done.

This dish got destroyed the minute it was set down on the table and I found myself scraping the bottom of the pan to get every last bit. I had never used Gruyere cheese before and I was a little surprised with how strong it really was. In fact when it was baking we thought something was burning in the oven and causing the smell. But when it came out of the oven, it smelled and tasted divine.

I might not be able to see my girlfriends whenever I want, but at least I can have a little taste of my new favorite Chicago restaurant any time I want.


French Onion Fondue from Maude's Liquor Bar Chicago
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 6 sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ cups chicken broth, I used low sodium
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (we bought a block and shredded it ourselves)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
1.)  In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until they are deeply browned, took about and hour and a half. I did things around the house while checking on them and stirring every so often.


2.) Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry sherry, sherry vinegar, Worcestershire, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the liquid is reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and reduce slightly, about 5 minutes.

3.) Spoon onions into a shallow cooking dish. I left most of the liquid in the pot. Top with cheese and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned on top. 


4.) Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Top with chopped parsley and serve with toasted baguette slices. 
Enjoy!

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