Meatless Monday: Easy Cheese Fondue

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

The final season of Mad Men kicks off on Sunday with Don Draper and his gang of ad world execs entering the final year of the jet-set 60s. As interested as we are in the business and personal dealings of the Sterling Cooper office, we’re even more obsessed with the decade’s nostalgia-inducing food and drinks. From steakhouse power lunches to Draper’s whiskey-swilling habit, there’s been no shortage of throwback fare featured on the wildly popular drama.

In honor of the upcoming premiere, we’re taking a culinary step back in time with one the 60s most popular party tricks: fondue. Jamie Oliver’s spin on the retro favorite is a cheese-lover’s dream and features three types of the runny, gooey goodness: cheddar, Gruyere and blue cheese. He suggests croutons and potatoes as dippers, but with so much beautiful spring produce available at the market, we’re going with seasonal greens like roasted asparagus and artichokes — not to mention an Old-Fashioned cocktail or two.

Easy Cheese Fondue

Olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Couple sprigs fresh thyme or marjoram, leaves picked
1 1/2 to 2 ounces/ 50 ml cider
14 ounces/ 400 g Cheddar cheese
14 ounces/ 400 g Gruyere cheese
5 1/2 ounces/ 150 g blue cheese
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Fondue is quite a retro concept but it’s easy to make and the sort of thing that you should start cooking once your guests have arrived. That way, it will be runny and gooey and perfect when everyone is ready to eat and they’ll all be interested and excited by what’s going on in the pan.

Heat a lug of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Put a large saucepan with an inch or two of hot water on a low heat. Put a large heatproof bowl over the saucepan so you have a bain-marie.

Add the chopped shallots to the frying pan and cook them gently for around 5 to 10 minutes with a pinch of salt and pepper and the herbs. Once they’ve softened, but not coloured, add them to the bowl with the cider and all of the cheese.

Leave the cheese to slowly melt down, only stirring now and then to help it along. Once it has mostly melted, stir in the creme fraiche, then a swig or 2 of hot water to loosen the mixture a little. Have a taste to check the seasoning, and get all of your dipping ingredients and skewers at the ready.

Cook’s Note: I like homemade croutons, some bread sticks and a few leftover roasted potatoes cut in half for mine, but really anything you like to eat with cheese will be good here. When it’s runny and delicious get everyone around the bowl and watch it disappear!

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