Spicy Smoked Calm "Velveeta" Fondue Redux

Spicy Smoked Clam “Velveeta” Fondue Redux

Casual Late Summer Supper

Relax! I have high jacked Velveeta in name only as a throwback to one of the 50’s miracles of modern science innovations, pasteurized prepared cheese products, miraculously stocked without refrigeration on grocer’s shelves and, contrary to any current culinary correctness, is still effortlessly melted into pale velvety orange pools in American kitchens from coast to coast.

Recently a casual late summer supper menu was on my mind…flashing back to a velvety “spicy clam dip” that wooed guests at my mother’s then “swell” cocktail parties. As a testimonial of this fondue’s irresistible allure, I as an impressionable young lad happened upon a seemingly genteel male guest not so discretely spooning mouthfuls of this spicy dip out of an isolated chafing dish assumingly on the lam, or so he reckoned! Reason enough…it was on the supper menu!

The recipe that follows, as promised, does NOT include Velveeta , but it does deliver the indulgence of the originals deliciously guilty pleasure!

The recipe   serves 6

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons diced red and green jalapeno chilies, seeds removed
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 4 oz tin smoked clams, drained, rinsed if packed in oil and minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 oz grated mild cheddar or a mixture of cheeses including Monterey Jack, Fontina, Gouda, or Munster
  • 1 ½ teaspoons corn starch (corn flour)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • salt to taste for finishing

 

Melt the butter in a fondue pot or heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, jalapeno chilies, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the clams and stir to combine. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer, gradually adding the cheese while continuously stirring and bringing the mixture back to a low boil.

Combine the cornstarch and sherry, stirring until the corn starch is dissolved, and add to the fondue mixture while stirring. Cook for several minutes at a low boil while vigorously stirring until the fondue thickens and smooths out into  a thick creamy texture.

Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the Worcestershire, and pepper. Taste and add additional salt if needed.

Serving

Place the fondue pot over a low flame (votive candle) or transfer the fondue to a chafing dish or bain- marie. Serve with toasted crostini and/or stone-ground corn tortilla chips.

Note: If you have used a pale cheese add 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric and paprika to replicate the deep orange color of the original Velveeta fondue which was part of the allure of this 50’s culinary revelation!

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