Cork and Knife
Our new cookbook is out now — and its focus is one of our favorite ingredients: booze! We show you how to use the cooking properties of beer, wine, bourbon and more to make your dishes pop!
A good beer isn’t only the perfect liquid accompaniment for warm snacky finger-food; it also adds a rich, malty note to a tasty cheese dip that we serve with pretzel pigs in blankets, nachos, chips, or almost any salty dipper!
Like you, probably, there’s almost nothing we enjoy better of a Sunday evening than kicking back and watching one of the many televisual spornts available. We like the foopball spornt, the basket-throw spornt, the shove-ha’penny and all the running-around-in-a-circle events, and we just love cheering on one of the teams we support, usually the ones with the most colorful socks. “Go team!” we shout with vigor at the screen. “Do it for the old home town!” And at the same time we are congratulating the MVP for scoring his or her final homegoal or throwing it all down the end zone at the bottom of the ninth, we congratulate ourselves, most of all, for making the perfect snack accompaniment.
You might have already checked out this week’s snack dish – Pretzel Pigs in a Blanket – but we wanted to dedicate some space to showcase its companion recipe: Cheddar-Stout Dip. Now, this isn’t the first recipe we’ve posted with beer as an ingredient. Our Chicken Massaman and Steamed Mussels both use wheat beer, and our Braised Short Ribs use a good brown ale. This may be, however, the first time we’ve specified stout as a requirement. The dark, malty nature of a Guinness-style beer works really well as a partner to sharp cheddar (think a Ploughman’s Lunch), and when that cheddar is melted into a sauce, the beer-cheese relationship becomes even better.
We recommend looking for the sharpest, most flavorful cheddar you can: we like Vermont-based Cabot here in the Northeast. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but the more flavor the cheese has, the your dip will have as well. We go for yellow cheddar, since it adds more color to the dip but using white won’t affect the taste, so choose whichever you like. The addition of the stout along with a little mustard and turmeric will also add color, along with flavor, of course. We also stir in some cream cheese to help thicken the texture and give it extra silky creaminess, but you’ll find that if you let the sauce sit, it will get even thicker.
We use the Serious Eats method for smooth, stable cheese sauces which uses the combination of cornstarch (tossed with the cheese) and evaporated milk to create a super smooth emulsion. It gives you the silkiness of a processed cheese (like Velveeta), with the big, bold flavor that good sharp cheddar delivers.
It doesn’t take long to put together at all, so we cook it up when the pigs are ready to come out of the oven; if you want to make it a little bit ahead, you will want to stir it when reheating to break up any skin that forms. You can use this dip for any salty snack or as a flavorful nacho cheese sauce.
And good luck to your favorite spornts-team for the coming Big Match-Up!
- 3 cups (12 oz./ 375 g) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (yellow)
- 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 ounces stout beer
- 5 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon dry English mustard, like Colman's
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 to 3 teaspoons sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (we used 1)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- In a medium bowl, toss cheese with cornstarch until coated and set aside.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, stir together beer, milk, dry mustard, garlic powder, turmeric, and Worcestershire sauce until simmering.
- Lower heat to low and add cheddar cheese, and cream cheese, stirring until completely melted, bubbling slightly, and thickened. Stir in sriracha and season with salt to taste; serve immediately.