A tangy beer cheese sauce is perfect for dipping homemade pretzel bites in during the Big Game this weekend.
On Sunday, the New England Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL championship game. You know the one. For the purposes of this column, we’ll just call it the Big Game.
The thing about food for the Big Game? We take it very seriously. There was a spell in the 1990s where my family and I would go to a name-rhymes-with-Goober-Cole party every year. Family friends would gather, growing in numbers with births and marriages, and there would be laughter, fun and good food.
The table at the party would be piled with everything from lasagna and salad to nachos, veggie platters and other bite-sized foods. And when dessert came, there would always be some football themed confection to feast on. It was epic.
But more than the food, it was in those years that I learned to love football. While watching, I learned about running games, sacks, Hail Marys and the newly-adopted two-point conversion rule. The team I rooted for didn’t really matter much — and I almost inevitably rooted for the team that would eventually lose. What really did matter, though, was all that I learned about football.
It’s been more than 20 years since we first started going to those parties, and I can still remember sitting close to the television, soaking up every testosterone soaked moment on the field. Johnny C., one of our family friends, would often be next to me, explaining the things I didn’t yet know.
These days, I pass that love of the game along to my kids. They know that Sunday nights mean football during the season for us. And they know that this Sunday’s game is the biggest one — the one we’ll watch together and talk about.
Whether you’re watching at home this year or heading to a party, enjoy something tasty during the game. These Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Sauce are tender bits of homemade pretzel with an irresistible sauce, perfect for dipping between plays. You’ll need about an hour to whip these up, and you’ll be so glad you did.
Be sure to choose a flavorful beer you love for the sauce. As I always say, you should cook with what you like to drink. Your taste buds will thank you.
- 3 tbsp baking soda
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1½ cup warm water
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- coarse salt (such as coarse kosher salt)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup beer
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp ground dry mustard
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large pot, dissolve the baking soda in 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Allow to sit until it foams -- 2-3 minutes. Stir the sugar into the yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt and stir well to combine.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Divide into four pieces and roll each one into a long rope. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Drop the pretzel pieces into the boiling water, about 10 at a time, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove to the prepared baking sheet with a slotted spoon. Continue until all the pretzels have been boiled.
- Brush the pretzels with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- While the pretzels are baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk the flour into the butter until fully combined and golden. Add the beer a little at a time, whisking thoroughly until combined. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking until fully combined. Whisk in the ground mustard. Continue cooking until it's steaming hot. Whisk in the cheese until smooth. Remove from heat and season with salt, as desired.
- Serve the pretzels and cheese sauce together immediately.