Friday, November 28, 2014

Beer Cheese

Last Year's Post: Turkey & Pomegranate Salad
Two Years Ago:  Brandied Cranberries

If you've ever had (and liked) beer cheese soup, you know exactly what this spread will taste like except it has a little kick and a slight garlic undertone.  All in all, it's the perfect pub food to snack on while watching sports on a large-screen tv, tall cold one in hand.  It's also a great party appetizer during the holiday season because it can sit out for long periods of time and goes well with wine in addition to beer.

My overall theory on food is that if you serve something very healthy along side something not all that healthy, they balance out.  Diet soda and pizza come to mind.  Here, the vegetables play the virtuous role along with toasty dark rye bread and pretzel crackers as the perfect vehicle for that cheesy goodness.

The spread is remarkably easy to make - there aren't many ingredients, and everything gets whizzed up in a food processor before refrigerating for a few hours to blend flavors. You can vary the taste by adjusting the amount of cayenne and garlic that you use, plus by using a bolder or milder beer.  I used a Negra Modela and was very happy with the results.

If you have any beer cheese left over (not likely), it's excellent spread on lightly toasted buns for brats or burgers.  Or how about beer cheese grilled sandwiches?  Yum.

printable recipe
Beer Cheese
Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
¾ cup beer (amber or dark beer will have a more pronounced flavor than pilsner)
Pretzel crackers (or pretzels)
Dark rye bread, toasted and cut into squares
Radishes (sliced or not), carrot sticks, blanched pea pods, celery sticks, etc.

Grate the cheddar cheese, preferably in a food processor.  Remove the shredder attachment and add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, black pepper and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine.  With the processor running, slowly add the beer, blending until a smooth mixture forms.

Transfer the beer cheese to a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight to allow flavors to blend.

Serve with crackers, rye toasts, and assorted vegetables on the side.

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