11.8.16 Beer Cheese Toasts with Leeks
One thing you will always, always find in my kitchen is a good loaf of bread. Whether it be homemade, or from the local bakery, it’s something I just cannot be without. Nearly any other ingredient can run low, but it’s only if I find myself without good bread that I really start to worry. Whether it’s slathered with jam, dunked into runny-yolked eggs, encasing some sort of sandwich, or simply doused with good quality olive oil, the fact remains that when there’s good bread handy, a meal or snack is always close at hand.
My all time favorite topping for bread has got to be tomatoes. There’s a sizeable chunk of the year when tomatoes on toast makes up significant portion of my diet. But once ripe, in-season tomatoes are a thing of the past, I have to get creative and start opting for other tasty toppings. And I think we can all agree that after good quality tomatoes, the best thing to put on toast is cheese.
There’s this thing called Welsh Rarebit that is mostly cheese, and as I’ve found, is a particularly good way to enjoy toast. It’s essentially a thick, cheesy sauce, usually bolstered with ale. Building upon this idea, I added some tender sauteed leeks, a healthy dose of whole grain mustard, and some apple cider vinegar for a nice tang. Slathered on a nice piece of toast and broiled until bubbling, the result is like an extra gooey, extra flavorful open-faced grilled cheese. Eat it straight up for lunch, or cut your toasts up into smaller pieces and serve as a warm appetizer at your next dinner party. As long as you’re well stocked with good bread, cheese, and beer, these toasts are well within reach. Thank goodness.
Beer Cheese Toasts with Leeks
Makes 6 medium sized toasts
You’ll only use ½ cup of beer to make these toasts. The rest of the beer should be finished off while cooking and/or drank alongside the finished toasts. It should not go to waste. I used a farmhouse style ale here, but something a bit darker, like a nut brown ale, would be delicious as well.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, chopped (about ⅔ cup)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp flour
- ½ cup farmhouse style ale (I used New Glarus Spotted Cow)
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg yolk
- 6 medium sized slices of good hearty bread, toasted (I’m a huge fan of Madison Sourdough’s Miche for this)
- Fresh chopped chives for serving.
1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the chopped leeks, salt, and pepper, and cook until leeks are soft and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the flour, stirring to coat the leeks, and cook for 1 minute. Add the ale, milk, mustard, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and stir until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in the grated cheddar and cider vinegar, mixing constantly until smooth. Mix in the egg yolk, again stirring constantly until sauce is completely smooth. Season to taste with additional salt if needed.
4. Preheat broiler, and arrange toast slices on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top each piece of toast with an equal amount of the cheese sauce. Place under broiler, and broil until cheese sauce is bubbling and starting to brown (keep a close eye on this to prevent burning). Top with fresh chives and serve immediately, ideally with a cold beer.