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We're hosting a fondue-gluttony outside in the snow with friends, and one of them doesn't like cheese at all. Do you have any ideas what we could offer him instead and still would fit in the concept of the event? That would be people in thick clothing snuggling up outside around the warm pots of fondue.

Edit: I meant more an alternative, that fits into the event (e.g. friend makes cheeseless mini pizzas in a raclette set) , than a literal alternative in terms of consistency and manner of consumption (even tough those suggestions are great as well).

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    Are we talking "cannot contain any cheese" level dislike, or just something that doesn't primarily taste like cheese? – Erik Nov 4 '15 at 21:16
  • You could also use satay sauce; in this way you could use similar ingredients. – Adrian Hum Nov 4 '15 at 21:21
  • the latter. if he doesnt smell or taste the cheese, it doesnt matter if there's some inside. – blackdot Nov 4 '15 at 21:22
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    Personally, I very much dislike many kinds of cheese, and abhor fondue in general. But your fondue-gluttony sounds like a great plan, composed primarily of friends having fun, and secondarily foody. If I were at such an event, I wouldn't touch the stuff, fill up with bread, and have an amazing time with friends. – Martijn Nov 4 '15 at 22:26
  • Sorry, but I have to close the question, based on both the edit and the kind of answers which have been posted. We don't do "suggest which fits on the menu". because they produce a case exactly like this one: a hugely popular question everybody wants to add an answer to, so that it's a long list of random dishes nobody cares to read through. – rumtscho Nov 5 '15 at 9:23

11 Answers 11

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Chocolate fondue is well known but not really an alternative, more like a dessert (if there is any appetite left!)

There are other dishes which involve having the guests dip some solid food in a mostly liquid component themselves and immediately eat the result:

  • Chinese hot pot (incidentally called “fondue chinoise” in French)
  • Fondue bourguignonne (beef) and bressane (turkey) use more or less the same principle but with hot oil instead of broth. Because hot oil can be dangerous, you need another type of fondue vessel.
  • Another type of meat-based “fondue” involves cooking meat in hot spiced white or red wine (I've personally never tried it and just found out about it while researching this answer), cf. the French-language Wikipedia articles on red wine fondue (usually with red meat) and white wine fondue (with fish) and some info in English.

While they are very different in terms of taste and ingredients, it could fit the concept of the event and offer an alternative for people who cannot or do not want to eat cheese. The setup is somewhat more complex than a cheese fondue though.

  • I'm going to have to dig around to find information on the cooking meat in wine to give it a try. If you have any references to that now, could you consider adding in those links for those of us who are curious? – user25991 Nov 4 '15 at 23:34
  • @MichaelT I added a few links, hope that's useful. – Relaxed Nov 4 '15 at 23:52
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    Very interesting. Thank you. I was able to dust off some of my high school french and could make out most of the fr.wiki pages with the appropriate context. I'll have to give it a try some day. You might want to note that fondue au vin rouge (red wine) is done with beef, while the fondue vigneronne (white wine) is done with predominately sea food (fruits de mer). – user25991 Nov 5 '15 at 0:42
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There are many ways to fondue. I like Escoce's chocolate answer. Really, you just need any liquid in which people can dunk their food. Cheese is a popular choice because it goes well with so many foods, but you have a whole world of other options.

I went to a fondue restaurant once and they had pots of oil, broth, wine, etc. available for guests to cook their own beef, chicken, fish, etc. Just impale the protein on a fork and leave it in the hot liquid until it's done to your liking.

There's no reason why you couldn't use gravy, white sauce, marinara sauce, or anything else that would taste good warm. Then pick some solid bits of food that would match the sauce(s) and have fun!

And, don't forget the chocolate fondue at the end. :-)

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IMO, Unless you have extra fondue "setup", it will be hard to accommodate your friend.

You could do a Chinese "hot pot" (hot broth) with thinly sliced meat (beef, chicken...) You could do a fondue "Bourguignone" (with oil) with cubed meat (mostly beef).

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Unlike the other answers, I'd completely skip the part where it has to work like fondue. It's more important that it matches the food you already have.

You already have bread and white wine. Have some slices of bread ready, add some grapes and nuts, something to put on the bread (thinly sliced smoked bacon?) and self serve salads which some of the other guests will enjoy as starters or as a much lighter alternative to the fondue.

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Chocolate fondue would be great to offer AND many of your other guests may end up on the chocolate fountain instead of the cheese.

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I recently made a thick cauliflower soup, and I think it would make a good proxy for a savory fondue. If you use a rich chicken stock and a few potatoes, it will have good thickness like a fondue and a similar color as well.

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There are several other foods that can be made to a similar consistency. However, I am not sure I would call these fondues and it would require some invention.

While neither of these are traditional (and hopefully they don't offend anyone), they may have the ability as a base to give a similar consistency to cheese fondue (similar, obviously cheese is awesome and has that gooey thing going) while not actually using cheese.

Potatoes

Potatoes are very starchy, if boiled and then mashed, these could form the basis for a fondue. It wouldn't require any dairy if your friends were lactose intolerant. On the other hand, if they were simply cheese adverse specifically some butter would go a long way here. Perhaps make a simple roux (flour + butter) as the base and add in some garlic and onion, along with the mashed potatoes. This would be rather thick and should work to mimic fondue.

Refried Beans

This may be more akin to making a bean dip though, so I am not sure if that works. It could almost be like a bean dip chili if you wanted, where there was some sort of shredded meat in there for flavor along with a pepper for some bite. It would definitely have that thick consistency that one expects with a fondue.

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I recommend a butternut or other winter squash puree. Roast squash with fresh garlic, shallot or white onion, and oil. Cool. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice for slight tartness, a dollop of dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, and fresh herbs such as thyme or sage. If you have miso or vegetable stock/bouillon on hand, a little bit would add amazing savory flavor (personally I always use both). I prefer Edward & Sons or Rapunzel brand broth cubes.

I found this recipe, which looks pretty good to me. I've made similar things in the past and really enjoyed them:

http://www.thefirstmess.com/2014/09/24/omg-vegan-butternut-queso-recipe/

I am vegan (8 years) and have a lot of experience making alternatives for cheese sauces. I am also a chef.

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Since you said some cheese is acceptable, you could try looking for recipes for Onion fondue, which generally contains a little bit of cheese and a lot of onions. Other than that, it's also a French style recipe and will probably fit quite well with your existing fondue dippers.

Alternatively, soup has been mentioned before. There's a lot of recipes for very thick soup, like cauliflower, zucchini, brocolli, carrot, etc. Any soup that is made mostly from vegetables with very little water added will be nice and thick and works quite well, but unlike the onion fondue might feel more like a first course instead of a main course.

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My mother used to make canned tomato soup with a canfull of shredded cheese (cheddar, typically) instead of milk, producing something like extremely thick, rich tomato soup, served as fondue. This is a long shot because it's still got a lot of cheese in it, but the taste strikes me as more creamy and tomato-y than cheesy, so it might be worth serving as one of the options.

If it sounds bland on its own, cayenne, basil, oregano, and/or rosemary are good spices. It's also good over toast.

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    Slightly unrelated to the original question (that's why I put it as a comment), but I know this as tomato fondue, where we use normal fondue cheese, a couple of fresh sliced tomatoes (about half the volume of the cheese), and dip potatoes instead of bread. Just cook the tomatoes into a sauce first for about 15 minutes, with spices and all, then add the cheese. – Peter Nov 5 '15 at 11:02
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Try using a thick soup, chocolate, and/or a thick sauce like tomato or gravy.

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