Now that you have pretzels…what’s next?
November 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm By Chef Eric
There is an old joke about a dog chasing a car, what is he supposed to do once he catches it? Now that you know how to make pretzels, you might be wondering what you should do next? To me, the obvious answer is beer cheese dip.
This recipe is going to make use of an unfamiliar ingredient called sodium citrate. And while its name may seem scary, it is simply another type of salt. We’re all familiar with sodium chloride, but it gets called table salt. And when we made our pretzels we used sodium bicarbonate, but that gets called baking soda. So I suggest we called sodium citrate “cheese salt,” nothing scare about that. The thing is, normally cheese doesn’t like to mix with other ingredients. The fat and protein want to separate and form globby chunks of mess. Sodium citrate helps the cheese emulsify into what ever liquid you’re using, allowing for a perfectly smooth sauce.
For this recipe, we’re going to use beer as our liquid, and a mix of cheddar and jack for our cheese. The amount of cheese salt you need is between 1 and 3% of the total weight. This recipe has about 300gm of beer, and 300gm of cheese, so it uses 12gm of sodium citrate. You are welcomed to use any other liquid you prefer such as milk, wine, or chicken stock. You can also try different cheeses.
- 12oz bottle of beer
- 300gm cheese
- 4gm salt
- 12gm sodium citrate
- black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne to taste
In a medium sized sauce pan, bring beer, salt, sodium citrate, and seasonings to a simmer.
Continue simmering for 5-10min to allow beer to reduce a little.3
Turn off heat and add shredded cheese. Let sit an additional 5min while the cheese melts.4
Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), puree mixture until is smooth. Adjust for seasoning and serve warm.
If for what ever reason you choose not to use cheese salt, I can respect that. A simple alternative is to make a roux by cooking 3 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons of flour, and then added that to your simmering beer. It is also possible to use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken your sauce, similar to making cheese fondue. Simply toss your shredded cheese with the corn starch, then added to your simmering beer. In both cases you will need to cook your sauce while whisking vigorously to avoid lumps.