• Beer Cheese Dip

In The Spirit of Oktoberfest...

Last week I found out that my coworkers were going to be having a dip competition. With it being October and all, I decided something with beer—like beer cheese—would be perfect.

Now, this idea provided a pretty significant challenge for me. I’ve never made beer cheese before. I’ve also never really made a good cheese sauce before, either. (That is, without using fake cheese like Velveeta or something.) So, I knew it would require some research.

I looked around on the Internets and found a really good article that provides some general tips on making cheese sauces. The article was really helpful and alerted me to some things that I wasn’t aware of. After some trial and error, I came up with something that I think is pretty good.

Along with the recipe, though, I want to share a few quick tips I learned in the process. Some of these are taken from the article above.

1. Start with a white sauce.

Maybe this is obvious, but I used to think there were some cheeses (that were really hard to find) that just magically melted into beautiful sauces. I don’t think there really are. Pretty much all natural (i.e. non-velveeta) cheese sauces are made by melting cheese into a béchamel.

2. Cheese doesn’t like heat.

If you heat cheese for too long or at too high of a temperature, it breaks down and becomes grainy. This is pretty nasty and about the exact opposite of what you want. So, you got to watch the heat.

Additionally, there are a couple things you can do to give yourself the best chance at success. 1.) Shred the cheese as finely as you can so that the chunks that have to melt are as small as possible. This will allow you to use less heat to melt it. 2.) Start with room temperature cheese. If the cheese is warmer to begin with, it won’t need as much heat to dissolve.

3. Don’t give up.

This is cheesy and lame to add this as a tip, but the reality is that making cheese sauces has been pretty frustrating to me at different times. The reality is that it is just a skill that takes some time and effort to develop. If you make one and it doesn’t turn out right, give it another shot. You can do it!

Here’s the recipe, enjoy:

October 24, 2011

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