Monday, October 13, 2008

Smoked Cheddar 2 Ways

My roommates and I love fondue and try to have little fondue parties a few times each year. This year was no different as we celebrated our friend Bart's birthday. Our absolute favorite fondue recipe features smoked cheddar and hard apple cider. I sent Christine to the store to get the ingredients, and in her excitement she bought them out of smoked cheddar. I had a block leftover after fondue night, so I figured it was only proper to make a recipe featuring the smoked cheddar since it's so popular in our house. So this post, you'll get smoked cheddar, 2 ways!

Smoky Cheddar and Apple Cider Fondue
From Fondue; Great Food to Dip, Dunk, Savor and Swirl by Rick Rodgers

1 cup hard apple cider
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (about 6 cups)
3 tablespoons high-quality apple butter
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the cider and lemon juice over medium heat until barely simmering.

In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the cornstarch. A handful at a time, stir the cheese into the saucepan, stirring the first batch until melted before adding another. Stir in the apple butter and season with the nutmeg and pepper.

Transfer to a cheese fondue pot and keep warm over a fondue burner. I served this with sausage, crusty bread and apple slices.

Take 2:

Smoked Cheddar and Bacon Pizza

12 slices bacon (I used hickory-smoked)
1 cup grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pizza crusts
1 cup tomato sauce
3 cups smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (I wanted to use smoked mozzarella, but my store didn't have it)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook in skillet until almost crisp, about 10 minutes. While crisping bacon, place tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in oven about 10-15 minutes, until almost bursting.

While bacon and tomatoes cook, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on each pizza crust. Sprinkle each crust with 1 1/4 cup smoked cheddar and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Once bacon and tomatoes on done, distribute evenly over each pizza and top each with remaining cheese. Bake in the 450 degree oven about 8 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is warm.

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