Beer Cheese n’ Mac Recipe

from Charles Winters

Along with fall’s changing weather comes football, friends, and comfort food. What better way to celebrate this intermediary season than by combining two favorites—beer and macaroni & cheese! The addition of beer brings out the flavor of the cheese sauce in this dish that is sure to satisfy the heartiest fall appetite.

Serves: 4

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 30 min

Ingredients:

1/4 cup            butter or margarine

1/4 cup            flour

1 1/2 cups        warm milk

1/2 cup            heavy cream

12 oz. (about 3 cups)    sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 bottle        dark beer

dash            black pepper

2 tsp            ground mustard

1 tsp            garlic powder

1 tsp            hot pepper sauce

8 oz. (about 3 cups)    macaroni elbows or shells

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. As you are making the cheese sauce, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and cook macaroni according to directions on box. Drain.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour until a smooth paste forms. Increase heat and slowly pour in warm milk, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil, then immediately turn to low heat and simmer for a couple minutes. Add black pepper, ground mustard, garlic powder, and hot pepper sauce. Turn up heat and add heavy cream, simmering briefly. Reduce heat and add 3/4 of the sharp cheddar cheese. Once melted, add beer and stir well until mixed. Combine beer cheese sauce with macaroni elbows, and pour into a greased casserole pan. Add remaining shredded cheese on top. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is crisp and golden brown. Serve with beer (if you didn’t drink them all while cooking).

What Beer is Best for Cooking?
Beer provides a great alternative base for stews, soups, and chili—basically anything with a liquid component. But what is a good beer to use? The short answer is any. Some recipes call for lighter beers and lagers, which will impart a gentle beer flavor to the final product. Others, like this recipe, use a darker beer (although it could just as well be made with an amber ale or lager). A higher IBU rating will generally produce a more noticeable beer taste. A good rule of thumb is to stick with what you like to drink and what’s on sale. For this recipe, we used Bootstrap Brewing’s Insane Rush® American IPA.