Laura and Dana Putnam are the owners of Finding Home Farms in the Hudson Valley of New York. Finding Home Farms started as Finding Home in 2004 as an interior decorating business, and added maple syrup-making in 2013 as a way to bring Dana and Laura’s two favorite things together – creating a welcoming home and making maple syrup. To illustrate the maple syrup-making process, one of my favorite photography teams, William and Susan Brinson, spent a delicious fall day documenting Laura and Dana — and Laura has shared her recipe for Sweet and Savory Maple Syrup Fondue using winter produce and yes, bacon! But you can use whatever you like! What a unique holiday spread to share with friends and family. —Kristina
Why Laura loves maple syrup: Before you can talk about maple syrup, you have to talk about sugaring itself. It is the ultimate treasure hunt. Once you find the trees (we have amazing trees!), you must leave so much in [the] hands of Mother Nature, as weather impacts when the sap runs and when it doesn’t. Anyone can make syrup because the principles have been the same for generations. But each sugar-maker brings an element of art to each and every detail and step from the woods, to the sugar house, to the way it is packaged and sent out the door. The aroma, especially when warm, impacts the flavor in a unique way as well. Our syrup has so much love and passion in it, we think it affects the flavor. It tends to not be overly sweet and pairs beautifully with savory as well as sweet flavors, a quality which this fondue showcases.
Sweet and Savory Maple Syrup Fondue is an extremely versatile dish to serve when you are having guests. You can plan on more sophisticated components to cook, or you can simplify it with items that do not require cooking. Your dish can also be flexible to accommodate guests who are vegetarian or vegan. Prepare smaller servings for an intimate party or increase your quantities for a large group.
This dish is very flexible and only limited by your imagination and cravings. To make it as pictured, you will need:
– Mild cheddar cheese – a medium size block
– French bread
– Olive oil
– Parmesan cheese – small block
– Brussels sprouts – about 20 sliced in half
– Vegetable oil
– Apples – 3 to 4, sliced
– Pears – 3 to 4, sliced
– Sweet potatoes – 3 to 4
– 1 lb. of chicken
– 3 garlic bulbs
– Bacon – 10-15 rashers
– Maple syrup – about 2 cups
– Kosher salt
Cheddar cheese – break or slice the cheese into cubes to be directly dipped into the syrup. The pairing of cheddar and syrup is unexpected, but the flavors pair together beautifully.
Slice the French bread into small slices and brush on olive oil. Slice your parmesan cheese thinly and place on top of the bread. Brown in a 425 degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until melted and brown.
Slice additional bread to be enjoyed with some of the other ingredients.
Slice your Brussels sprouts in half and place in a bowl. Lightly coat with vegetable oil and kosher salt and mix together. Place in a roasting pan and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until browned.
Slice your sweet potatoes into long strips and place in a large mixing bowl. Coat the potatoes with vegetable oil, kosher salt and pepper. Place a rack on a baking sheet and place your sweet potatoes on the rack. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until slightly brown.
Slice your chicken into bite-size pieces. Place in a frying pan with olive oil and cook all the way through and until the outside is browned. Season your chicken with kosher salt.
Slice a small section off the top of whole garlic and discard it. Place your garlic in a small baking pan and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the garlic is soft and brown. Use this as a garnish for the different foods served with your fondue.
Cook your bacon until crispy, using your preferred method (frying pan, oven, or microwave).
Heat your maple syrup in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave slowly, heating it for about 30 seconds at a time, being careful that it doesn’t boil over. Add the warm syrup to your fondue pot and light the heat source to keep it warm.
Arrange all of your ingredients on a tray and add some additional kosher salt to enhance the sweet and savory pairing.
About Laura and Dana: Laura Putnam spent years in corporate marketing for a lifestyle brand before transitioning to the role of mom and an interior decorator. She is now the author of the blog findinghomefarms.com and is working with Dana on developing a line of USA-made home decor. After years of a high-travel, high-stress corporate job, Dana Putnam left the corporate world to return to his roots as a fourth generation sugar-maker. To pursue his greatest passion, making maple syrup, he merges old traditions with new technology to make what he and Laura believe to be incredible maple syrup. Along with their two daughters, Laura and Dana run Finding Home Farms in the Hudson Valley of New York. They have found a way to bring together their two greatest passions and are going for the big dream of making a living AND a life doing what they love best. They are now in the process of buying land locally in the Hudson Valley in order to expand the number of trees they tap and hope to create a destination sugar house.