My husband’s favorite soup is French onion, and the amber ale, New Belgium Brewing Fat Tire, ranks high on his craft beer list. It turns out that the nutty toasted notes and mild sweetness of the beer go nicely with the best part of this classic soup, the caramelized onions. To keep things interesting, I turned the two into a single appetizer. Serve this with slices of rye toast or pieces of freshly baked baguette for dipping. An amber ale is also a nice beer to enjoy with this snack.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
¼ teaspoon thyme leaves, minced
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup beef stock
8 ounces amber ale
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
6 ounces Gruyère or Swiss cheese, shredded
Thyme sprig, for garnish
Melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Stir in the thyme.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Once it is melted and bubbling, sprinkle in the flour. Stir as the flour cooks and forms a paste around the onions, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the stock and continue to stir as it thickens.
Reduce the heat and carefully pour in the beer. Bring to a simmer, increasing the heat if necessary. Let simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about two more minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper, and then stir in the bread crumbs.
Pour the dip in the prepared pan. Top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt and the dip is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before serving. Garnish with thyme sprig. Serve this dip warm soon after it comes out of the oven.
Beers to consider: New Belgium Brewing Company Fat Tire Amber Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing Company Boont Amber Ale, Rogue Ales American Amber Ale
Lori Rice is a photographer, writer, and nutritional scientist based in California’s Central Valley. To learn more about cooking with brews and for great recipes like the one on the next page, check out her cookbook Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer, available on Amazon.