Celebrating the love triangle of beer-pretzels-cheese by turning it into a full meal! Pretzel-breaded chicken is baked to crispy perfection and drizzled with warm melty beer cheese for a rich, comforting dinner. Broccoli is the perfect side veggie… partly because it’s full of nutrients and stuff, but mostly because broccoli + cheese sauce is the best.
This week’s recipes feature local craft beers to celebrate the Great American Beer Festival! GABF is the biggest beer festival & competition in the country, bringing the best of craft brewing together in Colorado. They’ll be pouring over 3,500 brews, so you better believe I’ll be wearing my pretzel necklace! I’ll share some fun behind-the-scenes stories on Instagram later this week.
First up is Upslope, a local brewery just down the road in Boulder. Upslope’s mix box is one of our favorites all around, and their blood orange saison is the perfect summer sipper. This recipe uses their craft lager in the beer cheese sauce for its bright, crisp flavor.
Something else I want to call out is that all the Colorado craft beers this week are canned! Bottling used to be the mark of quality craft, but the transition to cans means fresher beer, sustainable manufacturing, and all-around better eco-friendliness. Plus it’s easier & safer to toss a few cans in your backpack to head up the mountain.
The secret to foolproof, perfectly smooth cheese sauce? Pulse everything in the blender first! I wish I’d know this trick years ago, it’s so easy to just whisk the blended mixture over heat and boom, your sauce is velvety smooth.
Please please please – so important – grate the cheese yourself! Pre-shredded cheese is coated with starches and cellulose to prevent clumping, which means it also doesn’t melt smoothly. There’s definitely a time and place for buying shredded (camping and drunk food are our usual excuses) but this isn’t it. I have this super-basic IKEA grater and I love it.
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Beer Cheese Sauce
- 6 oz. pretzels
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 T. dijon mustard
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. pepper
- 4 chicken thighs boneless & skinless
- olive oil spray
Foolproof Beer Cheese Sauce
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar shredded
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 2 T. butter
- 1 cup lager
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 t. worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°. Set a wire baking rack on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet and spray the rack with olive oil.
- Pulse pretzels in a food processor until mostly ground, with pieces no larger than 1/4-inch.
- Pour flour into one dish; eggs, mustard, salt, & pepper into another dish; and crushed pretzels into a third dish. Whisk eggs until smooth.
- Lay chicken thighs flat and pound to 1/4-inch thick.
- Dredge chicken in flour, coat in egg, and press both sides into pretzels until thoroughly coated. Set chicken on the wire baking rack and lightly spray the tops with olive oil.
- Bake at 400° for 8 minutes, then flip chicken over. Spray the tops with olive oil and return to the oven for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown.
- While the chicken is baking, make the beer cheese sauce, below.
- Drizzle chicken generously with hot beer cheese and serve right away.
Foolproof Beer Cheese Sauce
- Blend all ingredients except salt & pepper for several minutes on high.
- Pour into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly for 5-7 minutes, until cheese melts and sauce thickens. Season to taste.