Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beer Cheese and Beer-Cheese Burgers for the #BlondeBBQChallenge

Cheese! Cheese! CHEESE!!!
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, under the shadow of O'Hare airport's many flights, and just a few blocks from the entrance to the tollway that led to the Mecca of cheese - otherwise known as Wisconsin.

While there were a great many Wisconsin cheese products for sale at grocery stores in my suburb, a trip across the border gave me access to small cheese shops and giant purveyors of mountains of cheese.

It was wonderful.

I always brought a cooler with me, and I did a pretty good job filling it. And of course the nonperishable jarred and bottle products didn't take any cooler space, right?

One thing that often followed me home was a tub of beer cheese, often sold in a little crock.

I never really thought about what beer cheese was - I guess I assumed that it was cheese that tasted good with beer. Because that's another thing you can find a lot of in Wisconsin.

But no, beer cheese isn't just something that tastes good with a glass of beer - it has beer in it!

I decided that it was about time I made my own beer cheese, and then I went a step further and melted it on top of a burger. With a side of beer.

I was beery happy with the results.

My good friends at Guinness supplied me with some of their new Guinness® Blonde™ American Lager, along with a few other goodies (mmm ... beer) for my participation in creating a recipe that goes with beer. But once I had that beer cheese idea in my head, I had to go with it. And then I used it in a recipe that goes with beer.

Snickers is skeptical about the big metal tub. She thinks it's a doggy bathtub!
Guinness Blonde, if you haven't tried it, is hoppier than Guinness, but with a nice maltiness as well. I don't usually care for highly-hopped beers like IPAs, but I really liked the Blonde.

Besides being lovely on top of a burger, this cheese is great on crackers. Probably also good spread inside a celery stick, but around here we went for the burgers and crackers.

Beer Cheese Burgers

Mmmmm ... melted cheese!
For the beer cheese:
1/2 pound sharp (or extra-sharp) cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 pound mild cheddar or colby cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Guinness Blonde

For the burgers:
(do you really need this?)
Ground meat, formed into patties
Beer cheese
Buns, to match the number of patties
Condiments and toppings, as needed

To make the beer cheese:
Pulse the cheeses along with the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in your food processor until you have small bits.

Add the worcestershire sauce. turn the processor on, and with it running, add the beer. Continue processing until you have a smooth paste. If you think you need a little more beer, feel free to add it. Otherwise, I'm sure you'll find a really good use for that other half-bottle of beer!

Transfer the beer cheese to an appropriate container and refrigerate until needed. It will be soft right after it's processed, but it will firm up as it chills. If you need it softer for spreading - like on crackers - let it come to room temperature, and it will soften.

To make the burgers:
Grill the burgers as you usually do, adding the cheese to the top just before they're fully cooked. Close the grill and allow the cheese to melt - it doesn't take long, maybe 30 seconds.

Put the burgers on buns and add your favorite condiments. This time, I topped the burger with a large slice of tomato and a few pickled jalapenos.

Serve with a refreshing glass of Guinness Blonde, for adults only.

This post was sponsored by Guinness. 
Make your own BEER CHEESE spread - great on crackers, or melted on a perfectly grilled burger.