by Gabi of Honest Fare
A Take on Wisconsin’s Famous Beer and Cheese Soup…
I’m not a huge beer drinker. And by that I mean it’s not my drink of choice. I prefer to eat my beer actually. I like the flavor it gives to meats and breads and soups, like Wisconsin’s famous beer and cheese soup! Which brings me to how this particular grilled beer and cheese sandwich was born.
It happened one day when I was really craving a grilled cheese sandwich. I wanted to come up with something different, though. So I started by thinking about what kind of bread to use because I figured that would help determine the rest. Immediately it hit me – beer bread!
I fell in love with beer bread the first time I made it and smelled the aromatics of beer and fresh baked bread wafting through my kitchen. Since then, it has been my bread of choice. It’s incredibly easy to make, but best of all, it’s perfect with all kinds of cheese (soft, aged, spreadable, etc.).
What blows my mind about all this is how long it actually took me to come up with this sandwich – two whole years of baking beer bread before it dawned on me to make it into a grilled cheese? I’m almost disappointed in myself. Nevertheless, on this particular day, I excitedly told my companion that I was going to make a grilled cheese sandwich on beer bread, to which he replied, “You mean like beer and cheese soup, but in sandwich form?” Well no, that is not at all what I meant, but it was brilliant!
The beer-and-cheese-soup-in-sandwich-form revelation took things to a whole other level. I sautéed up some onions with Worcestershire sauce, to achieve that signature kick you get in beer and cheese soup.
And for cheese, I went with medium Cheddar (just enough sharpness) and a creamier Fontina for some contrast. Then I added a nice layer of Dijon mustard before stacking everything up and grilling it with a little butter and olive oil.
So how was it? Um, amazing. The beer flavor with the sharpness of the cheese and then the sweet and tangy onions is divine! One thing though: Beer bread is pretty dense, and though it slices nicely, it lacks the sponginess that you get with other breads.
So basically, it gets messy when you take a bite. I don’t mind that though (the more oozing cheese the better), but I just wanted to let you know so you make sure to eat it with a plate. Since taking these pictures, I’ve made an open-faced version of this sandwich several times, which I find much easier and tidier to eat using a knife and fork.
Grilled Beer and Cheese Sandwich
Cook + Prep Time: 50 minutes
Makes 1 loaf of bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
One 12-ounce can or bottle of beer (any beer, though I find that cheap beers work best)
3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed. Best to just mix dough with your hands. Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan. Melt butter and spread evenly across top of dough. (Makes it golden and crusty!)
Bake in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool completely before slicing.
Grilled Beer and Cheese Sandwich
Cook + prep time: 20 minutes (assuming the bread is already made)
Makes 1 sandwich
Thinly sliced white onion
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
Medium sharp Wisconsin Cheddar cheese
Wisconsin Fontina cheese
A little butter and olive oil
Slice onions thin and dice some fresh oregano. Set burner to medium-high heat and drizzle olive oil on pan. Add onions to pan and make sure there is enough oil to lightly coat them all. Sauté onions until they begin to wilt, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, oregano and a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook covered until onions become soft/caramelized (about 10 minutes). Add more Worcestershire sauce to taste if you like.
Spread a layer of Dijon mustard on one slice of beer bread. Place desired amount of cheese on top. Place a pile of onions on top of cheese and top with another slice of cheese and bread (omit top piece of bread if going for the open-faced version). Carefully place sandwich on a pan that’s lightly greased with olive oil and butter.
Grill on medium-low heat until browned to perfection!