Leave Your Fondue Pot Behind (but Keep the Fondue)

Fondue is not something you serve at a party; fondue is something that defines the party.

Invited in as a part of the meal, that alluring attention-grabber will always dominate, demanding its own pot and forks and elbowing all other dishes out of the way. A classic fondue needs to shine alone.

But if you eliminate the fondue pot, and ladle the same gooey cheese mixture into a roasted squash, it becomes a far more demure addition to the menu — without losing a speck of its rich, creamy charm. Instead of being the centerpiece of a meal, fondue-stuffed squash is an integrated part of it.

This is not to say it’s not still stunning — it is. If your guests don’t ooh and ahh at first, just wait for the carving. Slice open the squash, and watch the cheesy insides gush out, emitting a heavenly steam. (Using a rimmed serving platter eliminates any tablecloth-staining mishaps.) Then spoon the fondue over the squash and serve it forth. It’s a more theatrical version of squash with cheese sauce, but one that won’t end up stealing the entire show.

Along with the squash and oozing cheese, I’ve added some bread crumbs. Fried until golden with garlic, chile, lemon zest and some optional but very delectable anchovies, it’s a crunchy and pleasingly oily garnish that replaces the usual bread cubes dunked into fondue, albeit with a lot more flavor.

Unlike a traditional fondue, which will eclipse any roast or braise you try to pair it with, this version makes an excellent side dish. Or it can be served as a rich appetizer, with something light to follow. I like to bring it out before roasted fish, with sorbet and cookies for dessert.

Although you do have to whisk the fondue right before serving, the rest of the dish can be made ahead. The bread crumbs can be fried the day before and stored airtight at room temperature without losing their crunch. And the squash can be roasted earlier on the day of serving. Just reheat it until piping hot before pouring in the fondue, so the cheese stays melted and runny.

You won’t need to break out fondue forks, but spoons will guarantee your guests get every last, silky drop.

Recipe: Roasted Squash With Cheese Fondue

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Melissa Clark has been a columnist for the Food section since 2007. She reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She has also written dozens of cookbooks. @MelissaClark Facebook

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