By Aaron Ramson

When I was a little boy, I wanted to grow up to be a chef. I’d watch these PBS cooking shows (while waiting for Sesame Street to come on no doubt) like “Cookin’ Cajun” with Justin Wilson, and “Always Cooking!” with Paul Prudhomme, and be fascinated by the way people could cook such flavorful looking food. I’d promptly go over to the kitchen stove and almost set my house on fire because I was five and barely housebroken, let alone skilled enough to cook a meal (to this day, my parent’s kitchen ceiling has scorch marks on it because of me). Yes, it’s true, the height of my culinary skill consisted of the ability to overcook Top Ramen until it was mush, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of being just like my culinary idols.

My love for cooking is what led me to a career in creating beer recipes for a living, and I find nothing more satisfying than cooking dishes made from beer. This cheese sauce recipe I’m about to share can used as a dip, a spread, a topping, or, if you freaky, you can just cover yourself with it and sit on some plastic furniture, let the bugs cover you and enjoy a nice evening that way. I don’t judge (that’s a lie), you can do whatever feels good and I’ll accept you just the way you are (totally lying again).

This is a very easy recipe to make; it requires just 30 minutes, and the most challenging part is probably making the roux without burning it. And even if you DO burn it, all you dun’ was make yourself some smokey cheese sauce, baby. The recommended beer for this recipe is a California Common, a type of beer that’s not that common to find despite a name that totally suggests otherwise. Anchor Steam is the most obtainable beer of this style. If all you’ve got is a PBR or Coor’s Light, whatever, those’ll do in a pinch.  Let’s get to cooking!

Roasted Jalapeno Beer and Cheddar Cheese Sauce

  • 3 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Buy a block and shred it yourself, pre-shredded cheese has a weird coating that keeps it from melting smoothly in your sauce.
  • 2 large jalapenos, roasted. You can choose to deseed if you like, I chopped mine whole and enjoyed all the fiery goodness.
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup California Common or American lager beer
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard. I prefer the grainy type, but smooth Dijon gives a nice flavor as well. Yellow mustard is not the business in this recipe but if it’s all you got, go for it.
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp course ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried parsley

Start by melting the butter over medium-low heat in a 3 Qt cooking pot. Whisk the flour in, beating all the lumps and clumps and rumps whatever other words that rhyme with “mumps” out if it. Whisk frequently until your butter and flour mixture cooks into a nice brown colored paste. Making a roux gets rid of that raw flour taste, and replaces it with a nice, toasty flavor. That’s that Maillard reaction that I mentioned in last week’s recipe for beer chili. Add the mustard, then the beer, pouring slowly and whisking all the while. Add the milk slowly while continuing to whisk. Turn your heat up to medium flame, and allow the mixture to come to a low boil. Add your roasted, chopped jalapenos and the dry spices, then whip it all together. Reduce your flame to low and add your cheese in small handfuls at a time, until its’s all melted completely in the sauce.

Pour this sauce over nachos or corn chips, top potatoes or macaroni noodles with it, or if you want to be healthy, dip vegetables in it. Pour it over burgers or fries! This is a completely flavorful and fantastic cheese sauce that’s full of bold flavor. The sharpness and acidity of the cheese is complimented by the malty flavors of the beer, with a little bit of heat from the roasted peppers to liven and wake up the dish. Have fun with this one, use a beer you love, and I’ll have another recipe for you soon!

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