I worked for The Melting Pot for a grand total of six weeks while working another job during the day to make ends meet after college. I realize this makes me sound like a drama queen, but it was one of the most miserable six weeks of my life. I left the downtown restaurant between 1AM and 3AM every night and apart from being exhausted beyond what I could handle, we'll just say that the restaurant didn't really mesh with the way I wanted to live my life. ALSO, I spilled three drinks in three separate people's laps and that was just really bad.
All that to say, I did get one awesome thing out of working there:
A general idea of how most of the meals were prepared and made!
So this Valentine's Day JL and I, on our quest to be debt free, chose to forgo the crowds and price of a fancy night out and have a fancy night in instead for a fraction of the price.
* 3 oz. vegetable broth
* appx. 1-2 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
* appx. 1-2 oz. artichoke hearts, chopped
* 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
* 2 1/2 oz. Butterkäse cheese (Boar's Head sells it)
* 2 1/2 oz. Fontina cheese
* 1 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
* a small amount of flour
* dash Tabasco sauce
Full disclosure, I found this recipe here and went with it because it's pretty dead on.
Prep work notes:
1. SHRED the cheese and coat it on flour before adding it to the pot. Trust me. Also, keep some extra flour ready just in case.
2. Have all of your shredded/minced/chopped and correctly measured ingredients ready to go BEFORE you start cooking. Once the cooking process starts it happens VERY quickly.
Now, as you read in the title, I made this version without a fondue pot. While I don't recommend it over using a fondue pot, it works just fine! I actually have two fondue pots but I had a party at a friend's house and the heating elements are lost (le sigh).
So, instead take a deep pan (I used a 9" pan with a 2" lip) and fill it half way with water. Place some sort of silicone or metal object (make it flat!) in the pan to make sure the fondue pot (I used a 6" sauce pot) is heated by the water and NOT the heating element. I used silicone cupcake liners and they worked like a charm with no burning on the bottom of my pot.
In the pot, heat the vegetable stock (or if you want to be really authentic, use a dry white wine) until it steams, but don't boil it. Add ingredients one-by-one, saving the cheese for last.
Add flour as needed until cheese is thick enough to coat a small piece of bread without dripping. If it's too thin, just use more flour. If it's too thick, just add more stock.
We ate ours with tortilla chips, french bread (freeze it the day before using it and let it thaw IN the fridge), raw carrots, raw cauliflower, raw broccoli, and a granny smith apple.
I turned off the heating element on the stove but left the water there for reheating as needed during our meal and thankfully only needed it once.
Hope you enjoy!