Brats with Smoky Beer Cheese Sauce and Caramelized Red Onions

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by Taylor Mathis of Taylor Takes a Taste

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Take your tailgating to the next level with this recipe from Taylor Mathis, author of “The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, and the South.” Mathis honed his tailgating skills as a student at the University of Wisconsin and went on to research tailgating recipes and traditions of college football fans throughout the South and around the country.

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His recipes, not surprisingly, reflect both Wisconsin Cheese and southern tradition. Wisconsin comes into play in Taylor’s recipe for bratwursts, a statewide favorite and a common sight at almost any tailgate feast.  The brats are served with smoky beer Colby-Cheddar Cheese sauce and caramelized red onions. The flavors make for a winning combination that is sure to become a new staple of your tailgate!

Brats with Smoky Beer Cheese Sauce and Caramelized Red Onions
By Taylor MathisIngredients: For caramelized onions:
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 3/4 pounds red onions, cut in half and sliced (about 2 large)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze*For smoky beer cheese sauce:
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle flavored hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (12 ounce) bottle IPA beer
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Colby Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
4 ounces Wisconsin Cream Cheese

Pretzel buns
Mustard (optional)

Cooking directions:

To prepare caramelized onions:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet. Add olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring frequently over medium heat until onions soften, about 10 minutes.

Continue cooking onions over medium heat. Add brown sugar, salt and pepper, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, scraping caramelized bits off of bottom of pan. Add balsamic glaze. Stir. Use immediately or refrigerate.

To prepare smoky beer cheese sauce:
In large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir frequently for about 3 minutes, until flour and butter have formed thick paste. Add paprika, hot sauce, salt, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and beer. Stir until flour mixture is blended into beer. Add heavy cream. Stir to blend.

Reduce heat to low and add shredded cheeses and cream cheese. Stir until cheeses are melted and blended into beer sauce. Keep sauce warm, on very low heat. Stir the sauce before serving.

Prepare bratwursts using desired method. Place on buns and top with smoky beer cheese sauce, caramelized onions and mustard (if desired).

*Look for balsamic glaze with vinegars and sauces at supermarkets

Want more recipes for this season’s lineup? Round out your tailgating menu with hundreds of recipes at