One of our favorite places in the entire world is Ireland; specifically, the west of Ireland. It’s a beautiful country full of lovely people, and, as one of us likes to say, “no matter how small, there’s a pub in every town, and every pub has Guinness on draft. Plus you could hitchhike round the country whilst toting a fridge.” And, to wit, we were once in a town that appeared to consist of only a pub/grocery/gas station — that’s one establishment, mind you — and right on the corner of the building was, you guessed it, the familiar sign indicating that they had Guinness.So, what’s that have to do with today’s post? Well, the recipe we’re using today comes from Irish Pantry: Traditional Breads, Preserves, and Goodies to Feed the Ones You Love, by Noel McMeel, which we’d checked out of the library just the other week. While there are many interesting-sounding recipes in that tome, we tried this one first because we had some Gorgonzola cheese sitting in the fridge. (We only had enough cheese for a half-batch, so that’s what the photos show; the recipe below will make twice as many.)
Makes 30 crackers.
You’ll be adding salt to the dough, so don’t use salted butter. We recommend that you don’t use salted butter for anything. Period. No one knows better than you how much salt you like, so you should be the one adding the salt. For the blue cheese, use a kind you like. We used Gorgonzola, which doesn’t seem quite as strong as other blues, but it’s one that we like a lot. Pecans go very well with the blue cheese, but so would another nut; feel free to change it up. Pistachios, anyone? That would be good.
Procedure in detail:
Cream butter and cheese. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the blue cheese and butter together. Start the mixer on low, but start increasing the speed until the mixture is smooth, or at least fairly smooth. If needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
Add flour, salt, and pepper. Turn the mixer off, add the flour, salt, and pepper, and mix on low until the dough forms large crumbles, about a minute.
Add water. Stop the mixer and add 1 tablespoon of water, then mix on low until it’s incorporated. That’s it for the dough. Isn’t this easy?
Form log. The dough is quite sticky and tacky, so the easiest way to roll it in pecan pieces is to set down a rectangle of plastic wrap, and spread the pecans on it. Remove the dough from the bowl, forming into a rough log with your hands, and press down into the nuts. Roll it back and forth to cover the log with nuts as best you can, then wrap the plastic around the dough.
Chill. Since the dough is tacky, place the wrapped log in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes, but preferably several hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. We think you could use silicone baking mats, but we didn’t, since the mats sometimes pick up odors, and we don’t want future cookies to taste like blue cheese.
Slice. Remove the log from the refrigerator, and, using a sharp chef’s knife, slice off crackers that are about 3/8-inch thick. Place them on the prepared baking sheets with about 1 inch of space between the crackers.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until lightly browned.
Cool. Transfer the crackers to a baking rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
We had these as part of our snacks and lunch on our trip to the Grand Canyon. They were much tastier than any commercial salty snack (we’d thought about picking up a bag of pretzels, but went with these, instead). We ate several mid-morning, then finished the remaining few after lunch. Our only complaint is that we didn’t have a few more, because these crackers rock! Definitely five stars.