I’m trying to say it like Giada would. Fonduuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuta. Really throw that emphasis on the “u.” And throw on an almost obscenely low-cut top while saying it. And make your “O” face while eating your own food. That’s key to getting into the Giada kitchen personality.
Putting snarkiness aside…
You know how sometimes you’ll be watching television, and a commercial for some restaurant’s featured menu item pops up, and you think to yourself, “Self, we could totally make that without having to pay $20 and endure poor table service?”
Or maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Michelle and I were watching television, and a commercial for Olive Garden’s new fonduta recipes came on, and I looked at her and said, “We can totally make that.”
So I did some research. And I discovered that fonduta, traditionally, is a dipping sauce for breads, etc.: as you can probably guess from the name, it’s kind of like an Italian fondue (yes, shockingly, despite my upbringing and my very Italian father, I’d never had it before). So the stuff Olive Garden is using in their recipes is likely not a traditional fonduta, but an amalgamation of several different techniques for which they have appropriated the name “fonduta.” Of course, they’re Olive Garden, and that’s how they roll, so who am I to criticize?
As you can probably tell from the name, it requires Fontina, one of my very favorite cheeses. Ohh, Fontina. So tasty. Slight problem, though–in this relatively small town (the smallest in which I’ve ever lived, incidentally), gourmet cheese is difficult, if not impossible, to come by.
Columbus to the rescue! At Homecoming earlier this month, the GDI gathering/silent auction was held at Le Gourmet, a cheese and gift shop on Main Street (would have been nice to have when I was still a student, but I digress), and Michelle was able to purchase a large quantity of really nice Fontina and have it packaged to survive the eight-plus hour trip back home (side note: have you ever noticed how, when talking about food, people always use the term “nice?” “I have a nice piece of veal here.” “That’s a nice piece of zucchini on my grill.” I don’t want my food to be nice. My food has a wicked streak. Just like me. So let’s just say it was a really wicked Fontina. I’m done now).
The sauce is relatively easy to make; it just takes a lot of time to melt down the cheese and get the sauce to the right consistency. You want it to be creamy, but not too thick.
3 cups of Fontina, cubed
1/2 cup Asiago, shredded*
1/2 cup provolone, shredded*
1/2 cup Romano, shredded*
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded*
8 oz. salted butter, cubed
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups of milk, halved
1 lb pasta (I recommend anything with ridges, which will really soak up the sauce; we used radiatore, one of Michelle’s favorites)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Italian seasoning (to taste)
Grated Parmesan (optional)
*Make your life easier: buy one of the Kraft Italian-blend shreds. It has all four of these cheeses.
Melt the Fontina in a double-boiler with 1 cup of milk and a dash of pepper. I don’t have an actual double-boiler, so I used a stainless steel bowl atop a large stockpot filled with boiling water.
Make sure the water in the pot does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Be careful when touching the top bowl or removing it from the stockpot; that shit be hot.
In a separate pan, warm the milk on low heat and add the beaten egg yolks and the butter. Don’t turn up the heat too high, or else you’ll scramble the eggs. Stir occasionally while the mixture thickens.
Once the Fontina has begun to melt, add the other shredded cheeses; heat until mixture becomes creamy and cheese has completely melted. Add the milk/butter/egg mixture and continue to heat on low until the sauce has reached a creamy, but not too thick, consistency.
While you are making the sauce, boil the pasta in heavily-salted water 8-9 minutes, then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Top with more ground black pepper and salt (to your taste) and Italian seasonings to your liking. You can also top with grated Parmesan if you like.
I wasn’t kidding about the pasta. Look at the way the sauce sort of lovingly clings to each individual spiral of starchy goodness.
This is absolutely delicious and rich as it is, but if you want to jazz it up with some meat, I suggest some grilled steak or chicken, cut into strips. After all, that’s the way OG does it. As goes OG, so goes the world. Or something like that.