I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Bubbling Beer and Bacon Cheese Dip

Cooking with beer is an October tradition.  While it is just cool enough to have one last outdoor event, it is fun to put together an Oktoberfest celebration. The weather is beautiful and the food is comforting, perfect for a gathering of friends.  Warm sweaters and warm colors, leaves turning, a nip in the air and of course, plenty of beer.

This recipe was born because it combines some of my favorite words.  Beer, bacon and cheese. Put a pot of this in front of your friends and prepare for a stampede.  Warm, creamy and tangy, with just a touch of salty, smoky bacon, this is perfect party food. If you have a fondue pot or chafing dish, it would be perfect to keep this warm and creamy.  But I love it just off the stove.  People are generally hovering around waiting to dive in.  Salty pretzel rods are a classic pairing, but tart, crisp apples are wonderful delight as well.  I have also toasted little triangles of pumpernickel bread to serve on the side or thick potato chips.

Bubbling Beer and Bacon Cheese Dip

8 strips of bacon

2 Tablespoons bacon grease

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup milk

¾ cup beer (I prefer lager)

½ teaspoon mustard powder

12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Pretzel rods, apples, toast fingers for dipping

Cook the bacon in a skillet until very crispy.  Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.  Reserve 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease.

Heat the reserved 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly until you have a smooth, loose paste and it is just bubbling.  Measure the milk and beer in the same measuring jug, then slowly whisk it into the flour.  Cook, whisking constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes, until smooth and thickened.  Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to melt each addition before adding the next.  When all the cheese is combined with the sauce, reduce the heat to low.

Chop the bacon into very small pieces and stir into the cheese dip.  Serve immediately with pretzel rods and sliced apples.

The dip may be made about an hour ahead of and gently reheated over low, stirring in a drop or two more beer if needed.  You may reheat the dip over medium low-heat once during serving, but if you reheat it too many times, it will curdle.

Makes 2 cups

Complete your Oktoberfest celebration with  Bacon CamemBeer Bites, German Meatballs, or Belgian Beef and Beer Stew.

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