October 4, 2017

Beer Cheese

Beer. Is there anything it can't do?
The midwest and Germany have a lot in common. A love of food and alcohol, a healthy appreciation for tradition, and a tendency to reschedule those traditions out of concern for the weather, which is constantly threatening to kill us all. And it's no surprise that when you've got a bunch of people who love food and alcohol together, they're gonna start blurring the lines between those two things. Because after you've been drinking for long enough, just about any food idea will start to sound reasonable as long as you can make it in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered. Occasionally, like with beer cheese, it works out. Occasionally it doesn't, but you never admit that a drunken food idea was bad. You just stubbornly tell all of your friends about how great it was, and how they need to try it. This is why the French started eating snails.


1 Bottle Of Beer (Some people get very specific about what kind of beer has to be used for this. Those people are fools. Use a beer you like, preferably one with a good amount of flavor, but beware that the flavor will intensify somewhat as it's cooked)
8 oz. Cheddar Cheese
2.5 TBSP Butter
2.5 TBSP Flour
1.5 tsp Dried Oregano
1.5 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp Mustard (Any mustard will do in a pinch, but I prefer something with a little bit more texture and flavor like a stone ground mustard)
A standard human's pinch of Salt

So, Beer Cheese as a dip was developed in Kentucky. And since Kentucky has pretty much only ever had one thing to brag about (bourbon), they'll tell this to anybody who'll listen. I'm pretty sure that Beer Cheese is the state bird of Kentucky. But combining beer and cheese is by no means unique to them, and was even a thing in medieval Europe. In the USA soups and dips combining the beer and cheese are commonplace throughout the midwest, most notably in Wisconsin where it's technically illegal to eat a meal that doesn't have cheese in it. Now that you know that Kentucky has no reason to feel a sense of accomplishment, it's time to melt your butter over medium heat and stir in your flour to make a roux. As I've mentioned once or twice before, a roux is commonly used to thicken sauces. So once that's good and done, whisk in your beer slowly. You're gonna be beating this thing a lot more than you think you should have to. You're going to stop, thinking that the sacrifice of your arm and shoulder was surely enough to ensure a smooth sauce. Then you'll see a lump and realize that you're not done. You're never done.

Bonus points if, like me, you get off-brand pretzels that look
like a doughier version of The Scream, by Edvard Munch
Once you're done weeping in the corner and your sauce is smooth, stir in the rest of the ingredients. When you're stirring in the cheese, melt it in in batches so that you end up with a beer-and-cheese sauce and not a beer sauce with a giant lump of somewhat melted cheese at the bottom of it. Let it cook on low, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes so that all of the flavors can get drunk off of the alcohol, relax, and start getting to know each other. And that's it! It's a little spicy, a little sour, a lot cheesy, and full of some awesome flavor. Now all you have to do it grab some soft pretzels, hard vegetables, or...medium pasta? The point is, if you've got a foodstuff, there's a better-than-average chance that this stuff will taste incredible along with it. Plus, you can totally lie to children and tell them they can't have it because there's beer in it. More for you.

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