Cooking with Beer: Beer Mac and Cheese

What makes this bubbling version of the basic “Mac & Cheese” special?

Beer.

Yes, beer can be a base of essential “Mac & Cheese.” Here is how it is done:

The Ingredients

You will only need a few ingredients.

Of course, you will start with half a pound of elbow macaroni and three cups of grated cheese, nine or ten ounces of cheese. I suggest Cheddar, but just about any combination of cheeses will work. This is an ideal dish to clear out all those loose ends of cheeses you have in the refrigerator.

What Style of Beer?

As for the choice of beer, the lighter beers such as Lager, Pilsner or Weiss, will add a little bitter flavor. The darker the beer, the more robust flavors will develop. The dark and smoky brews are exceptionally tasty.

Getting Started

Next, you will need four tablespoons of butter and two and a half tablespoons of flour. This is what you need to make a roux, the base of your cheese sauce.

I like to add Soy sauce and mustard to the cheese sauce before mixing it with the cooked pasta, but you can add anything that suits your taste. Hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes will make your Mac and cheese unique.

The Tools of the Trade

You will need a saucepan large enough to hold the pasta and water enough to cover the pasta by two or three inches of water.

Next, liberally grease an oven-proof baking dish large enough to hold the pasta with butter.

You will also need a whisk to make the sauce and a colander or strainer for when the pasta is cooked, and a bowl large enough to hold the pasta and cheese sauce. Also, have a spoon on hand to stir the pasta in the boiling water. I use a grater to shred the cheese, but you can also simply chop the cheese into small pieces.

Once you have assembled all the ingredients and chopped/grated the cheese (In chef lingo, made your “mis en place.”), you are ready to get cooking.

Get Cooking!

First, turn on the oven and set the temperature to 350F.

Fill the saucepan with the proper amount of water, add about two or three tablespoons full of salt. (Chefs say the water should taste like seawater.) But since I would not suggest tasting boiling water, just stick to the two or three tablespoons measurement.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta. It should take only five or seven minutes to cook. Using the colander or strainer, drain the pasta and place it in a bowl you will use to mix the pasta and cheese sauce.

Now take the can or bottle of beer and open it. Pour half of it into a glass and drink it.

Now make the sauce. Start by making the roux, cooking the butter and flour just long enough to lose the “flour” taste. Over medium heat, melt the butter in the same saucepan you used to cook the pasta.

When the butter is melted and turns frothy, toss in the flour and use the whisk cook it for three or four minutes.

While whisking, add the rest of the beer from the open bottle or slowly at first, and then when the mixture starts to look like a thick gravy, add the rest. If it is as thick as paste, either add beer from another bottle or can or water until it gets to that thick-gravy consistency.

Now is the time to add the cheese. Continue whisking until all the cheese is in the sauce and starting to melt.

Turn off the heat and continue stirring for a few minutes. Now you can add anything else you want to add, mustard, soy sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese sauce into the bowl of pasta and mix until all the pasta is covered with sauce.

Pour the mix into the greased oven-proof baking dish and place it in the oven for a half-hour.

The Finished Dish!

Then carefully take the “Beer Mack & Cheese” from the oven, let cool and enjoy!  With another beer, of course!

The Ingredients

½ Pound Elbow Macaroni

3 Cups Cheese

4 Tablespoons Butter

2 ½ Tablespoons Flour

12 ounces Beer

Extras

Dash of Soy Sauce

Dash of Hot sauce

Two Dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1Tablespoon Mustard

1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Equipment

Saucepan

Oven-proof Baking Dish

Whisk

Colander or Strainer

Cooking Spoon

Grater or Knife

Measuring cup

Large Bowl

Make this simple mac & cheese recipe with the beer and cheese of your choice!
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First, let me introduce myself. I am Peter LaFrance, author of Beer Basics and Cooking & Eating With Beer, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. – 1995). I have also been published in American Brewer, All About Beer, and Ale Street News.

I have been writing about the brewing industry since 1984. Credits include contributing editor for Restaurant Management and Top Shelf magazines. I have also written for Beverage Media, New Brewer, Beverage Dynamics, and All About Beer magazine.

Welcome to The Old Growler!

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