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Ten years of regular fonduing...
on December 31, 2011
**Update Edit**: I originally wrote this review in 2011, after a decade of use. It is now 2015 (coming up on 2016!), and our two original pots are still going strong! I did order two backup pots, as I mentioned intending to do... as yet, we haven't even opened them. We're still fonduing away with our original pots. I can't think of any other small appliance we own that gets used as regularly as our two pots do, and yet still works perfectly!
My husband and I received two of these pots in February 2002 for our wedding shower. Yes, we had actually registered for them - we love to fondue. We're coming up on 10 years of use of the same two pots we were given at our shower, and they are still going strong. Notice that I am posting this review on New Year's Eve 2011/2012 - we just used them again for an afternoon fondue.
I'd say we use these at least monthly, sometimes more frequently. They are useful for so many things beyond just fondue, even as a small deep fryer. I've used them as a backup for my two crock pots when serving a buffet - they're great for keeping soups, sauces and such nice and warm during a lengthy serving time. I've used them to serve Italian Beef & au jus, warm apple sauce, warm appetizer dips, etc. They'll keep these foods warm for hours without burning.
I know a few reviews have mentioned the cord - both the length and the break-away safety feature. A few thoughts on this: Yes, the power cord is short. This can be very inconvenient, especially since I doubt most of us have an electrical outlet in the middle of our dining room table. I know I don't. What I do have, however, is a surge protector strip with a very long cord. We set that down in the middle of the table, and securely wrap the cord a few times around the leg of the table before plugging it in. Then the pot is plugged into the surge protector. This ensures that no one is going to trip over a dangling extension cord and gives us peace of mind that the draw of electrical power into the pot isn't going to overload a flimsy extension cord.
For us, it's well worth it given the high quality of this pot and the even heating it provides. In ten years use, we have never once burned anything in the pot... and trust me when I say that is less because of our own cooking skills than it is because of the high quality of the pot's heating design.
We've also never had trouble with the breakaway actually breaking away when we didn't want it to.
A few tips: Don't use metal implements for stirring/serving. The fondue forks are fine (you wouldn't be dragging them along the interior of the pot anyway), but you don't want your non-stick finish chipping so use only plastic/silicone/wood/etc. for any serving or stirring implements.
We found that the rings designed to hold forks when you're cooking meats and such are sort of useless. We just don't use the rings. On the other hand, we generally only fondue with close friends & family, so we tend to just batter up the meat or whatever and sort of dump it all into the oil or broth. Then after it cooks long enough, we scoop it out with a mesh ladle we have for our Wok. Then we just divvy up the meat (or sliced potatoes, or stuffed mushroom caps, or whatever) and pop in another batch to cook while we enjoy the one that just came out. Your mileage may vary.
There is a little recipe book included with the pot. The Swiss cheese fondue recipe in it is to die for, but I'll warn you that your measurements for four of the main ingredients (1 lb of shredded Swiss cheese, 3 level Tbl. flour, 3/4c milk & 3/4c. warm white wine) need to be EXACT. Even half an ounce off with the cheese, for example, will make the fondue too runny or gritty. So weigh/measure carefully. Put the flour in a zip lock bag, add the shredded cheese, and close the bag almost all the way. Then blow the bag up like you would a balloon, and finish sealing it. You can then shake the bag vigorously, thus ensuring the cheese is well coated by the flour.
I have also found that it is much more effective to put a teaspoon or two of jarred minced garlic (with a little juice) in the pot and spread it around with a paper towel than it is to rub the pot down with a garlic clove. This, by the way, in addition to the non-stick surface, helps keep your food from sticking. You WILL notice a difference when it comes time to clean up a cheese fondue if you've skipped the garlic step. Major pain in the butt.
If you do manage to get a food to stick to the surface and it's not coming off easily, fill the pot with hot water and turn it on for a few minutes. A drop or two of Dawn in the water helps too. We all know that "non-stick" only means "easier" not "slides off like water on a duck." While the water is still hot in the pot, a plastic bristled bottle brush will help with gently removing the food off the pot. Personally, the only food we've ever had any problem with sticking was cheese fondues that we didn't clean up immediately after use.
These pots have served us extremely well over the last decade. We've actually decided to buy two more and keep them in reserve just in case Rival ever decides to discontinue making these. We do NOT want to be without these pots - they are our favorite small appliance and very much loved in our family.