Thursday, November 13, 2008

Potted Cheese

When I'm throwing a party and not feeling very rich I often put a potted cheese out for hors d'oeuvres. This is one way to turn an economical slicing cheese into something exotic looking that spreads on a cracker.

Potted cheese is simply cheese grated and marinated in beer, then spiked with dried mustard and Worcestershire sauce and blended fine. Scrape it into a small bowl and guests will think you are an entertaining genius. (You don't have to tell them you're just trying to save a few pennies.) It has the added virtue of keeping almost indefinitely in the refrigerator.

To make this potted cheese, I used two kinds of cheddar, one from Vermont, the other from England, one orange, the other yellow. In general, I prefer a sharp cheddar cheese for flavor. This particular recipe is from Fancy Pantry, by Helen Witty, one of our favorite sources for making tangy dishes out of fresh produce and odd bits.

3/4 pound good quality cheddar cheese (you can combine different kinds if you like)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2/3 cup excellent beer (I use a dark Belgian ale)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
generous pinch white mustard
pinch cayenne
salt to taste

Grate the cheese and combine it at the bottom of a mixing bowl with the mustard and the beer. Press the cheese down until it is covered by the beer, cover the bowl and let it stand for a few hours or overnight.

Place the softened butter in a food processor and process until creamy. Add the cheese mixture, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper and cayenne. Process everything until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally as needed. Taste and add more seasonings as you desire, as well as some salt if it needs it.

Pack the cheese into a crock or ceramic bowl. Smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. For longterm storage, cover the cheese with clarified butter to a depth of about 1/4 inch, then cover the container and refrigerate.

Serve at room temperature, but leave the cheese out of the refrigerator long enough to soften. Crackers or toasted baguette are the perfect accompaniment.


Julia said...

I love this version of "beer cheese." The challenge of the typical queso dip is that it congeals in an unpleasant way. Seems like you've solved this problem.

Beverly said...

I love the sound of this and wondered how it would be made with a white wine instead of beer...for a lighter version. As a past brewer of beer, this has nothing to do with my love of big, dark ales...but just a different flavor, and more in keeping with my wino-friends. (kidding)

I suppose I could use the White Worcestershire Sauce which I just discovered has a name change: Note: Lea and Perins has changed the name of the product from "White Wine Worcestershire Sauce" to Marinade for Chicken with white wine and herbs.

This also reminded me of the wonderful (and wonderfully cheap) white-bean dip, which I serve the same way.

Yummie blog...I'm a regular visitor; not much better than gardening AND recipes. Thanks!

Ed Bruske said...

Julia, I second your emotions about the queso, even though my wife makes a mean queso with Velveeta and Rotel. This cheese spread isn't nearly as soft, but it is definitely more consistent.

Beverly, your idea about using white wine sounds perfectly plausible. Go fo it!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Great idea. I don't think I've ever eaten cheese like this so as the party season is almost upon us I'll give it a go. Only thing is I don't really like beer or ale of any sort, or lager so may go the wine route.

Anonymous said...

I made this, used a bock beer and two cheddars, one sharper. It is really really good!

Chris said...

After reading your post and all the rave reviews on Amazon, I had to pick up a copy of Fancy Pantry. It arrived yesterday. Fantastic! I want to make just about every recipe. Thanks for mentioning it. Also, we were at the German market yesterday and picked up some sausages...I'm going to start choucroute today for dinner tomorrow--with the turnips. Really looking forward to it.

Ed Bruske said...

Chris, I've never looked at the reviews on Amazon, but I'm not surprised they are positive. The recipes in Fancy Pantry on usually spot on, and there are lots of really good ones. It's one of our favorite references.