Last year my friend Nick at DudeFoods.com sponsored a grilled cheese contest. I made a classic grilled cheese but used Agar powder to create a Tomato Soup gel that I added to the grilled cheese. As the sandwich heated, the soup began to melt at about the same rate as the cheese. The result was awesome. It was the classic pairing of tomato soup and grilled cheese all contained within a sandwich and to my surprise it tasted awesome.
Ever since that post I have been trying to think of other grilled cheese experiments. I realized that many soups might be kind of gross in sandwich form. Who wants to at a clam chowder sandwich? However one soup seemed like the perfect fit; Beer Cheese. In a nutshell I would be making “cheese” out of a cheese based soup.
You can use any beer cheese soup for this recipe. You can make it from scratch (see links below), you can buy it at a restaurant (Locally, I love the version at Sprizzo in Waukesha but the Cheese Factory Restaurant in the Dells might be the best I have had) or you could even do my old college days recipe which usually consisted of a can of Campbell’s cheddar or nacho soup reconstituted with whatever can of swill I had sitting around.
I took 1 cup of leftover beer cheese soup and stirred in 1 teaspoon of agar powder. I heated it to a simmer in the microwave then stirred it again and dumped onto a plate. I put it in the fridge overnight but it actually will set up in about 30-45 minutes.
I trimmed the gelified soup to fit the bread (and put the trimmings on top of the larger piece, they’ll melt into it). I really wanted to use a pretzel roll as the bread but I didn’t have one and nowhere in Waukesha has them so I used regular whole grain bread.
Then I just made the sandwich like you would any other grilled cheese, though I will recommend cooking it at a lower temperature and slowly cook it to make sure the soup gel melts all the way through. Taking out the gel and letting it come to room temperature is also advised.
The sandwich turned out really good. I am not sure what it is but each time I have used Agar to make a grilled cheese I always envision myself tossing it in the garbage and making a regular grilled cheese because it will taste horrible and each time I have been pleasantly surprised at just how good they have turned out. The agar is flavorless so you won’t get any seaweed or chemical flavors, just the exact flavor of whatever you are gelifying. Not sure what my next experiment will be but I am kind of thinking of a bratwurst patty with a gel of beer, kraut juice, and mustard melted on it.
Links for Beer Cheese soup recipes:
Where to buy Agar and other food-grade chemicals: