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West Town Tavern’s ‘beer cheese’

Beer cheese is one of those guilty pleasures, even the commercial crap made with ‘cheese food product,’ a dairy derivative so abased that they are not even allowed to call it cheese. There is nothing bad about this recipe, however, from the tavern, where it always appears on the menu and flies out the kitchen door. Think of it as a potted cheese on steroids, or as cold Welsh rabbit; either way, serve it up with toast, cornichon and diced tomato.

Cheddar_Cheese.jpg-¾ lb shredded sharp Cheddar or other hard British cheese
-6 oz grated Parmesan or Romano
-1½ teaspoon or more hot sauce (depending not only on your taste but also on the heat of your sauce)
-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire
-1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning (see the notes)
- ½ onion powder (also see the notes)
-good pale ale or stout
- about ¼ cup minced parsley

  1. Stir together everything but the beer and parsley, dump the mixture into a food processor and blast it to muck.
  2. Slowly drizzle about ¼ cup into the muck, and reprocess it until you get a consistency that you like; you may want more beer. Stir the parsley into the paste and the beer cheese is ready.



- Lots of good commercial Creole seasoning blends are widely available, including Tony Cachere’s, Yogi (well, at least in Louisiana) and Zatarains’s; the proprietary product from Fox & Obel in Chicago is particularly good. It also is a simple task to make your own; recipes appear in just about every cookbook trading in the food of Louisiana and all over the internet.

- The recipe from West Town Tavern Contemporary Comfort Food (Chicago 2010) by its proprietors uses none of those mixes. Instead, the tavern makes a house rib rub and uses that for its beer cheese too. They mix together equal proportions of coarse salt, pepper, powdered ancho chile, cumin, sugar and brown sugar with a double dose of paprika.

- Not all onion powders are created equal. Many inferior brands taste bitter, harsh and hot. Not the stuff from Spice Islands; it, and the brand’s onion salt, are excellent products. Penzey’s, now becoming available throughout the United States, also makes decent onion powder.