Say cheese! If there is anything Wisconsin is famous for other than beer or bratwurst, it’s cheese. Consider cheese curds, cheeseburgers, and cheeseheads. So it should come as no surprise that the UW has a student organization devoted to tasting, learning about, and experiencing this dairy delicacy. The Badger Cheese Club, formed in fall 2006, is dedicated to spreading the word about one of the most significant aspects of Wisconsin culture. The club, which has about forty members, has tasted more than fifty cheeses, organizes club projects, and has a macaroni-and-cheese cook-off to end the academic year. Educating members doesn’t stop with simply cooking with and eating cheese. Club president Jordan Walker x’11 brings in “cheese experts,” such as a representative from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, as guest lecturers. The club’s Web site even features “cheese in the news.” Although cheese education is an important mission of the club, Walker says tasting different varieties of cheese is definitely the best part about participating. His favorite is Dubliner, a Cheddar-like Irish variety. The most original mac-’n’-cheese he’s had? One made with beer. Only in Wisconsin.
Badger Cheese Club’s Beer and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
16 ounces elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 to 1/4 black pepper or to taste
12 ounces beer (club prefers Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, but any will work)
1 cup milk
12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (club prefers medium or sharp, shredded by hand)
1/2 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Cook elbow macaroni in boiling water according to package. Drain and set aside while making the sauce.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, cook onions until soft but not brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add flour and pepper and stir in with a whisk. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the butter/flour mixture attains a nice golden brown color.
4. Add beer and milk. Heat, constantly stirring with a whisk, over medium heat until mixture just begins to bubble and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 1 minute before adding the shredded cheese and stirring to combine. Adjust pepper to taste.
5. Combine sauce with noodles in a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the cheese on top is melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
About 8 servings
Published in the Spring 2010 issue