How do you like your fondue? or raclette? or queso fundido (flameado)? Melted cheese in any country sounds like a sensual sort of heaven to me. We once watched an international cooking show which featured old women on some (likely) Mediterranean island melting cheese in a fire with two sticks, they had to stay in continuous movement so that the cheese did not drip off into the fire…though the details escape us, the image of this gooey cheese in tension with the fire caught our attentions. Cheese is already a magickal character in itself but revels in change of heated form – not all cheese, mind you, some need a few more ingredients to really make them shine in true melt fashion, but many are divine just the way they are. Even a good feta melts lovely with shrimp, olives, rosemary, and cherry tomatoes into a rich Saganaki worth scooping up with some bread.
But here today we feature Josh’s yummy Wallop bread- a fully fermented round with dark beer and a bit of maple to go with a mustardy, cheddary, melty cheese dip – you can slice the bread, spread the cheese and grill like a Welsh Rarebit or keep warm (I have a mini crockpot for just these things, not as scary as a fondue pot though the modern ones are less scary than their 1970’s versions) to use as dip (alternatively, if you warm small bean crocks or french onion soup bowls, this will keep the dip warm for a bit, too – ohhhh, and French Onion soup would go with this bread, as well!). The mirroring of the beer in the dip to the bread makes a nice pairing, while the mustard and sharp cheese makes your tongue dance!
This is a great little recipe for game night: a couple of card games (in this house, we’re all about Taco vs. Burrito, Sushi-Go, Uno, or Ratatat, or Mille Bornes, or even Apples to Apples), and cut and/or roasted veggies to go with the bread and dip away into the evenig while listening to records – our perfect evening.
Rock Bottom Cheesy Beer Dip
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2 teaspoon Stoneground Mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Dark Beer (think Porter, Stout, or a strong Brown Ale)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
6 ounces (approximately 1-1/2 cups) shredded well-aged Cheddar (see Note)
2 shakes (or to taste) Hot Sauce (the leek based local Maine Resurgam is our favorite)
For Dipping: Bread – in this case, we are highly recommending Stone Broke Bread‘s Wallop but any good hearty country loaf or rye would work lovely, and I dig roasted carrots, parsnips, artichokes, beets, purple sprouting broccoli or mustardy asian brassica’s which roast nicely but still retain some greenery and shape (I roast veg high at 400 degrees in a casserole dish and tossed with olive oil and sea salt about 20 min until slightly charred and al dente tender, stir if a thick pile so everyone gets a bit of flash heat).
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to let flour brown but to get slightly golden. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce. Serve immediately or keep warm for snacking.
Note: Grate your own cheese for this dish. Already shredded cheeses include potato starch or corn starch to prevent it from sticking. That starch can cause the dish to thicken too much.