Patriots Buffet Table 11/25/07 Patriots vs. Eagles
by Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff

This week the Patriots have an 8 o’clock game against Philadelphia. Philly is well known for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus, needing a jail inside the stadium, and Philly Cheesesteaks. We’re hoping Santa brings the Buffet Table a new grill this year, so we’ll be holding off on pelting Old Saint Nick or spending any time in jail. The cheesesteaks on the other hand we can do.

Philly cheese steak
In Philly they use Cheeze Whiz as the “cheese” on their cheesesteaks. I don’t know exactly what Cheeze Whiz is made of, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t cheese. We’re going to make our own beer cheese sauce. People at home can make it on game day, tailgaters can make it the day before and refrigerate.

Beer Cheese Sauce:
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bottle pilsner

Add the garlic and pilsner to a pot and heat over low heat. Once you see the beer start to boil add 8 ounces of cheese. Whisk that for a few minutes until it combines. Once that is done, add the other 8 ounces slowly, about 2-3 ounces at a time, only adding more as the previous addition has fully dissolved. Once you see that the whole mix is combined and consistent, remove from the heat and put it into a container. This recipe makes 4 cups of sauce.

This sauce is useful for more than just cheesesteaks. The sauce works as a cheese dip for pretzels. It goes great over eggs, potatoes, burritos, grilled chicken, and pretty much anything else you can think of. By using only 1/2 bottle of beer plus 4 ounces of cream cheese you would have a cheese spread or cold sandwiches or crackers. Take this recipe as a base and feel free to add whatever spices you like, or switch the type of beer and cheese used. The version here is a good base and works well with the steak.

Sandwich steak:
2 pounds shaved steak
1 onion, sliced
2 peppers, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
6 sub rolls

If you are at home:
Add the cheese sauce to a pot and heat over low heat, stirring often.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. When the onions are translucent add the shaved steak. The steak will cook in a few minutes. You can then put the steak onto the rolls and spoon the cheese sauce over the top.

For the Tailgaters:
We’ll be using the foil pouch method. Use Heavy Duty Aluminum foil. Allow the container with the cheese sauce to come up to room temperature. Form a pouch and add the oil, onions and peppers. Seal and add to the grill. Prepare a second pouch, add the shaved steak, and add to the grill. After 20 minutes, open the pouch with the vegetables and check to see if the onions are translucent. Open the pouch with the shaved steak and pour the vegetables over the top.

Spoon the cheese sauce over the top and allow to heat through. It will be thick at the start but will become more speadable as it warms. Move the pouch off the grill and onto a baking sheet. Use tongs or a metal spoon to spoon the mixture onto the rolls.

If you have a griddle, you could use that instead of the pouch. Heat it directly on the grill, drizzle a couple of ounces olive oil and add the steak and vegetables directly to the griddle in separate areas. When they are cooked through (they will cook more quickly on a griddle than in a foil pouch) spoon the cheese sauce over the top and allow to remelt.

Time for a drink!
As you may have guessed from the cheese spread, we’re going with Pilsner this week. Pilsner is a clean, crisp and refreshing beer, and when done right is as good as any other beer style.

The first light colored beer, Pilsner started a revolution amoung brewers and beer drinkers. Glassware had become cheaper and now people could see what they were drinking. Appearance became more important than when beer was served in stoneware tankards. A clear, light golden beer was visually appealing.

Older beer styles began to be pushed out as pilsner took over, not so different as would happen in America in the 1900’s as the big light beer makers such as Anheuser Busch eliminated smaller breweries.

Pilsner is based on four ingredients. Czech Saaz hops, so prized there was a death sentence or anyone caught smuggling their rhizomes out of the country. Pilsner malt, particularly from Bohemian or Moravian barley. Soft water, low in alkalinity. Finally, Bavarian Lager yeast, smuggled out of Germany by a monk in 1842. These ingredients all came together in a town called Pilsen in what is now the Czech Republic.

Saaz hops are very aromatic, floral and flavorful, but low in bittering oils. A brewer can use more Saaz hops than most others, increasing flavor and aroma without the same increase in bitterness. The lightly kilned Pilsner malt and soft water combine perfectly. Malt enzymes require a certain pH and temperature to convert starch into fermentable sugar. Light malt is less acidic than darker malt. The water used to make beer with light colored malt must be less alkaline. Lager yeast, works slowly and at low temperatures, producing clean and crisp beers with little unfermented sugar.

These clean crisp flavors will match well with the bold flavors of cheese and steak. The very bready Pilsner malt will remind us of the rolls. The dryness of the beer matches the salty and savory cheesesteak in a way a wweet beer could not.

The pick this week is Prima Pils from Victory Brewing. Hailing from Dowington, Pennsylvania this multiple award winner may be the best pilsner made in America. A fellow Pennsylvania brewery, Stoudt’s offers Stoudt’s Pils.

There are not many local breweries producing Pilsners. You can always try your local brewpub. Rock Bottom
in Braintree, MA sometimes has an excellent “Czech Mate” Pilsner. Going outside New England, an easy one to find is Brooklyn pilsner and it is an excellent example of the style. Any listing of Pilsners would be incomplete without the original Pilsner Urquell. Be careful of the usually skunked green bottles, the cans are better. Another excellent Czech example is the real Budweiser, Budweiser Budvar from Budweis, Czech Republic.