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I entered an online recipe contest through World Food Championships, hoping for a Golden Ticket to compete in the 2020 World Food Championship competition to be held in Dallas in November. Food sport competitions are all the rage and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

One of my entries is this beer fondue recipe using Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad Ale. I love fondue. I love being able to use different veggies or fruits or breads or meats as the vehicle to get the cheese from the pot to my mouth. Do you fondue?

Boulevard Barrel Aged Quad Fondue

Ingredients

  • 4 cups grated cheese* (Gruyere, Emmenthaler, raclette, Gouda, Havarti) room temperature- not cold
  • 1/4 cup flour (may substitute with corn starch)
  • 1 cup Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad Ale
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (fresh, at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon each Fiesta onion and garlic powder.
  • Optional-fresh or dry herbs (to taste)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl combine grated cheese with the flour until well coated. Set aside to bring up to room temperature about 15 minutes.
  2. While cheese is warming up on the counter-Add the beer to a 2-3 quart sauce pan and bring it to gentle simmer over medium heat. (If you want to flavor with the garlic, onion and/or any herbs (1/2 to 1 tsp) add these to the beer- the acidity and alcohol will dissipate the flavors.)
  3. After the beer has simmered for 3 minutes add heavy cream & simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Stirring frequently.
  4. Remove from the heat and fold in the cheese, stirring gently and working in batches(divide the cheese into 3 to 4 handfuls). You might need to place the pan back on the warm stove to keep the cheese melting- stove should be on the lowest setting of heat for this. Careful to not overheat because it will easily burn.
  5. Transfer to a heated fondue pot and serve.

Notes

-Generally about 4 oz of semi-hard (good melting) cheese will yield 1 cup of shredded cheese. If you are using a combination of two cheeses (recommended) make sure you have at least 8 oz of each.

-Have your dipping foods cut in bite-sized pieces and ready to serve ahead of time. If your begins to thicken in the fondue pot, add a tablespoon or two of cream and gently stir to thin it out. 

IMPORTANT:

Upon adding the heavy cream to the beer in the sauce pan it could curdle even though this is not common. Here is how to avoid curdling:

  • Do not use beer that is too acidic, Dopplebocks, bocks American/Mexican and German lagers work well. Wheat beers and malty ales are a good bet also.
  • Be sure to not use 1/2 &1/2! You need the fat content of the heavy cream to keep from curdling.
  • Be sure that the heavy cream hasn’t been sitting longer than a few days – acid begins to form in the cream as it sits and oxidizes & cause curdling.
  • Less heat is more- Don’t add cream to beer that is too hot. Gentle simmer is all you need, don’t boil your beer!!

Fon-do’s and Fon-don’ts

Do: Add acid (like dry white wine) if the fondue gets a little clumpy.

A little word on “Clumping”: This is what happens when your fundue looks like you mixed in some cottage cheese and has the clumpy effect. Depending on the cheeses used, your fondue might be “stringy” and look like the cheese in a pizza commercial-this isn’t good either. So what will assist in keeping your fondue creamy and smooth? This is where adding a dry white wine or lemon juice for acidity or even in a pinch a splash of rice wine vinegar (amount will vary depending on the recipe, I use 1/4 tsp at a time). A splash of acid helps to bind the calcium in the cheese, this dilution also prevents the proteins from the “clump”…and clumping is bad.

Do: Use the right type of cheese.

Hard cheeses won’t melt to the right consistency for a good dip. Try a softer cheese like Swiss, Fontina, Gruyere, Emmental, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack, which have a higher moisture content. Also, for best fondue flavor, blend two or more types of cheeses for depth and complexity.

Do: Bring cheese to room temperature.

Bringing the cheese to room temp softens the cheese – slowly – on it’s way to reaching melting point. This step is important because sudden extreme temperature change is likely to cause the cheese to clump or break and become oily.

Do: Grate the cheese first.

Since blocks of cheese melt differently, grating the cheese allows for even heat to permeate, thus making the melting process smoother and easier. It also speeds up the cook time so you can get to the best part… eating it!

Do: Add starch to the fondue.

Flour or cornstarch works against clumps or strings, keeping the proteins from clumping and the fats from separating out.

Do: Use low heat.

As best fondue practice, melt cheese very gradually on low, even heat. This will prevent any separation of fats in the melting cheeses. Adding a handful at a time, incorporate shredded cheese until melted.

Don’t: Boil cheese.

Make sure the cheese doesn’t boil. Heat and melt slowly. But once melted, move it to the fondue pot, which keeps warm at low temperature.

Don’t: Stir too vigorously.

Over-stirring could allow the proteins to bond and create a stringy or clumpy texture-remember “clumpy” is bad.

Don’t: Let cheese cool!

Serve immediately! Once removed from the stove, the cheese will begin to cool. When melted cheese begins to get firm again it’s likely to clump… remember “clumpy” is bad!

Do: Serve a variety of “dipping things”.

Traditional dipping vessels include cubed or hand torn crusty bread or soft pretzels. I like blanched veggies like broccoli florets, asparagus tips, or carrots. Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples work well with stronger cheese flavors. Also try different cooked meats or even homemade french fries.

https://youtu.be/_V0pcLe4X0w

John and cousin Jack Crouch debate proper cowboy hat etiquette. Do you agree? Or, are they stepping in cow patties? Let us know your thoughts….

This is the second episode of Backroads and BBQ from our visit to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. The day before we went to Lockhart, we visited with Aaron Franklin at Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. When we told him we were headed to Kreuz, he recommended the pork chop and jalapeno sausage hot link. So, that’s what I got. Check it out!

This poke recipe is so light and fresh and easy. The key to the dish is getting very, very high quality and super fresh tuna. Without that, this dish is nothing. The essential oils really add a grand amount of flavor that you can’t get from any other source. Be sure to use food-grade high quality essential oils (like those from Young Living). Read the labels on the essential oil bottles. If they say “not for internal consumption”, believe them. This probably means there’s something in them they aren’t telling you — not all and only essential oil.

https://youtu.be/KlyLqi_FAwI

1 pound ahi tuna, large diced in ¼ to ½ inch cubes

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

3 drops orange essential oil

1 Meyer lemon rind, finely minced

1 tablespoon Black sesame seeds

 One pinch Tabasco powder or ¼ teaspoon tabasco sauce

Combine sesame oil, orange oil and tuna. Marinate for 30 minutes. Before serving, add lemon rind, tabasco, and sesame seeds and stir. Drizzle with ponzu sance and garnish with lemon rind and mint leaves.

Ponzu sauce

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced

2 pinches Black lava salt

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup Yuzu sauce

1 teaspoon Black sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Garnish

1 Meyer lemon rind, finely zested

1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely sliced (Chiffonade)

Combine lemon rind and mint in ice water and hold for garnish.

½ cup peeled and roasted hatch green chiles

¼ cup 1 year aged asiago with rosemary cheese

¼ cup 1 year aged gouda

¼ cup manchego cheese

¼ cup Cabot Farms Vermont white cheddar cheese

½ cup milk

3 tablespoons butter

1 pound  elbow pasta

¼ cup pecarino romano, grated

1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup cracker crumbs

Boil pasta in water until al dente and drain. Add butter, milk, asiago, gouda, manchego, and cheddar cheeses. Stir until melted and combined. Pour into a baking dish. Combine pecarino romano, parmesan, and cracker crumbs, then sprinkle over the pasta. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

Imagine the sweet taste of fire embracing your tomatoes and peppers and onions that you blend into a fresh salsa. Perfection! Tortilla chips and some friends over and it’s a party! Salsa is super easy to make. When I fire up the grill, I always have a few extra veggies on hand to throw on the fire and make salsa with. This salsa recipe freezes easily for later use too. Put it in a crockpot or Instapot for Salsa Chicken. Throw it in with melted cheese and some milk to make a Fire Roasted Queso.

Chef John’s Fire Roasted Salsa

5 medium-size tomatoes, overripe, left whole

1 onion, cut in quarters

½ jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons freeze dried cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Magic Spice Mix (recipe below)

Heat wood fire grill (I used a Pitboss XL with oak wood chunks, but you can use a gas grill too.) Place a large cast iron skillet on the fire and heat the pan until water sizzles when dropped on it. Char the tomatoes, onions and pepper, shaking the pan to move the veggies and prevent sticking. Turn until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove from fire and refrigerate overnight. (Do not blend while hot.)

Once cooled, remove charred veggies from refrigerator and dump them into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until pureed to salsa consistency. (It’s important to pulse and not just turn it on because turning it on will just spin the liquid and not actually chop.)

Pour the tomato mixture into a bowl and add cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Mix and let sit for an hour or so to meld in the flavors. Depending on the acidity of the tomatoes, you may want to add either more lime juice or more spices to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips. Freezes well too.

You can also put the leftover salsa in a crockpot with chicken to make a salsa stewed chicken for tacos the next day.

Magic Spice Blend:

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons celery salt

2 teaspoons cumin

Mix together and store in airtight container. Hint: The fresher the spices you use, the better the flavor. Don’t store your spices for more than 6 months at a time.

This is a good rub on meat or chicken and cooked on the grill.