Did you know that there is such a thing as a smoked beer? I had no idea. Luckily, when I told my beer expert, Xavier, that I wanted something smoky for a dish, he knew what to recommend right away. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen is a smoked beer from a Bamburg, Germany brewery by the name of Brauerei Heller-Trum or more famously known as Schlenkerla. Now that’s a lot of German words I don’t understand. What I also don’t understand is, how in the hell do you smoke a beer? So I looked up some of the words. “Aecht” means original or true. “Rauchbier” is a style of smoked beer where the malt is dried over an open flame, usually from burning beechwood, which gives it that smoky flavor. “Märzen” describes how, in the old times, the beer was brewed in March (the brewing season) and stored in the cellar over Spring and Summer in order to keep it cool. From these findings, I deduced that Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen is an original smoked beer from Schlenkerla in Bamberg, Germany that is of the Märzen style. Whew!
This smoky beer with the impossible to pronounce name was combined with other ingredients to make the most delicious beer cheese ever. I threw that cheese in with some noodles and spicy sausage so it would be more acceptable to eat in large quantities. To play on the smokiness, I topped the mac and cheese with bacon and green onions. I’d say this dish is the ideal comfort food – it reminds me of sitting around a fire on a cold winter’s night. To be honest, I can’t believe it worked out so well. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for this one and I’ll give you a pat (possibly on the ass) if you make it too.
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
½ cup of smoked beer (We used Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen)
½ cup whole milk
1 cup shredded extra sharp white cheddar (about 4 oz)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
2 mild sausages (we used Boulder Mild Sausages here)
12 oz box of medium shells
¼ cup Italian style panko bread crumbs
½ lb bacon
¼ cup chopped green onions
Order of events: (to help you be the most time efficient in the kitchen)
– Boil water and preheat oven
– Cook sausages and start cheese sauce
– While cheese is melting, check on sausages and put shells into the boiling water
– Finish cheese sauce and take sausages off the heat if finished
– Strain pasta
– Slice sausages
– Combine cheese + pasta + sausages and put in the oven
– While the mac and cheese is baking, fry the bacon and chop the green onions
Preheat the oven to 350.
I’m praying you know how to boil water and put noodles in. Cook the noodles ALMOST all the way. They will finish cooking when they are covered in cheese, baking away in the oven.
Put the sausages in a pan on med-low heat. Turn frequently until cooked all the way though. When they are finished and somewhat cooled, slice them up.
The first part of your cheese sauce will be to make your rue. A rue or roux, is a combination of wheat and fat. It is used as a thickening agent in all kinds of sauces. Here, it will be used to thicken our cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pot on medium heat. When it is melted, whisk in the flour until it is golden in color. Next, add the milk, beer, and cheese. Allow it to melt but don’t forget to frequently whisk it so that the bottom doesn’t get burned. Finally, add the garlic and onion powder to the melty cheese goodness and set it aside until ready to combine with the pasta.
Its a mountain of white cheddar.
Mac and Cheese:
The oven should be heated to 350 by this point. Combine the pasta, cheese sauce, and sliced sausages. It should fit into a 8×6 baking dish or something similar. Top with ¼ cup of Italian style panko. [If they don’t have this at your grocery store, you can add some Italian spices and herbs (basil, oregano, black pepper, etc.) to panko and pulse in the food processor about 3 times. I’ve done this before, it works just fine.]
Pop your dish in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top becomes slightly golden brown. While the mac and cheese is cooking, work on frying up your bacon and chopping the green onions. When the dish is finished cooking in the oven, take it out and let it cool for a few minutes. To serve, put a big scoop in a bowl and top with bacon and green onions.