Health & Fitness

Cheesy Beer Fondue is ideal for cold weather

When it comes to cold weather entertaining, fondue is a classic.

I typically pull out my pots — one copper and one ceramic that I got for wedding gifts in the late '80s — during the holiday season.

But considering that reduced-fat cheeses have a reputation for not melting well, it might seem dicey to try to change the ingredients in a classic beer-and-cheese fondue.

This recipe for Cheesy Beer Fondue uses a combination of reduced-fat cheeses, fat-free half-and-half and light beer with tasty results. Cheese is very high in calcium and high in phosphorous. Meanwhile, swap out the hunks of baguette for vegetable dippers and you've added vitamins and fiber. Or go for pretzels and you have a crunchy, fat-free snack.

There are loads of fondue pots on the market these days. A ceramic or enameled cast-iron fondue pot is the perfect type of pot for cooking cheese fondue. Check the manufacturers' directions to see if the pot can be heated on the stovetop to avoid transferring fondue and dirtying more than one pot.

Cheesy Beer Fondue

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz.) fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup light beer

1/3cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1 3/4 cups 2 percent shredded cheddar cheese

4 slices 2 percent American cheese, cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Suggested dippers: carrots, broccoli or cauliflower pieces, or pretzels

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth and beer. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Ladle about half of broth-vegetable mixture into a blender; cover and blend until smooth. (Use caution when blending a hot mixture and always vent the cover when blending hot foods or liquids.) Pour puree into a 3-quart saucepan. Repeat with remaining broth-vegetable mixture and pour into saucepan.

Whisk flour into half-and-half; then whisk half-and-half mixture into broth-vegetable mixture. Simmer, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to thicken. Toss cheeses with cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir constantly until cheese has melted and mixture is smooth.

Serve warm with desired dippers. Makes 4 cups or about 12 ( 1/3cup) fondue portions

Per portion: 107 calories (29 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 212 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

The Wichita Eagle — 12/28/10