Beer Me

A few weeks ago, Foodbuzz, the company that puts ads on our site, sent out a mass email offering a bit of cash to anyone who created a meal using New Belgium beer and blogged about it.  Since I enjoy beer, food, and the additional beer and food that money can buy, I decided to sign up and sell out.  After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a meal.

I decided to make three different dishes with a comfort food theme using New Belgium’s Mighty Arrow Pale Ale. (By the way, am I the only one who thinks of Angry Birds’ Mighty Eagle every time I see that in print?) The first dish I created was Mighty Arrow Pretzel Bites (yes, this is the third time I’ve made pretzel bites, but this was a new recipe for me).  The second dish was Beer and cheddar fondue (with fruit, veggie, and pretzel bite dippers), and the meal ended with Chocolate Beer Cake with dark chocolate ganache.
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One of the best parts of cooking with beer is that very few recipes call for an entire bottle and so I could finish the bottle while cooking.  Dan and I each had a beer with our meal, and I must say, even though I didn’t taste the beer in the pretzels or the cake, the beer did go well with both dishes!

I will post the recipes for the pretzels and cake over the next two days, but I wanted to start with the the beer and cheese fondue.
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My inspiration for the fondue course was the Wisconsin Beer Fondue from The Melting Pot.  My friend Becca and I used to go to the one in DuPont Circle on a semi-regular basis, and we quickly learned that sharing cheese and chocolate was both affordable and filling (although Dan would disagree).

We hadn’t made any kind of fondue before because we don’t have a fondue pot.  There just isn’t room in our teeny kitchen for a dish that only has one purpose.  Instead, we used a regular saucepan and it worked really well, although I think we would have needed a real fondue pot if we’d been entertaining.  The recipe was super easy to make (the longest part was grating the cheese), and I could definitely taste the beer.  It gave a nice kick to the cheese and garlic.  I also added a little extra Worcestershire that I loved but Dan could have done without.
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Right after we finished eating, we turned on the Amazing Race, and what did we see but a Detour challenge where the teams had to eat a bowl of cheese fondue.  Unfortunately, it didn’t look like the teams enjoyed it as much as we did.  Maybe they should have tried our fondue instead.

Beer and Cheddar Fondue
2 apples, cored & cut into chunks
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups  celery
Some New Belgium Beer pretzel bites (come back tomorrow for the recipe)

Fondue 1 pound good cheddar, grated
2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 ounces  New Belgium’s Mighty Arrow Pale Ale or other beer + more if needed
6 Tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Toss grated cheese with the flour in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the 2 tsp of olive oil and 2 Tbsp of garlic in a sauce pan over low heat. Heat until it starts sizzling and the garlic is fragrant.

Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in the beer, 6 Tbsp of apple juice concentrate and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Bring the beer mixture to a boil and then slowly add the cheese while constantly stirring.  Stir until the fondue is smooth and melted.  If the cheese starts to over thicken add some more beer.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received money to prepare this meal.  All opinions are mine.