Macho Nachos, or You Can Call it a Comeback

Macho NachosWell, it’s true. Femme Fraîche went on an 8 month hiatus, but I’m back and so excited to be! Readers, the past few months have been a total trip and if you heard about all of it, you’d understand why I was gone for so long. I’ll spare you the more involved details, but leave you with these two major culprits: 1) My gorgeous and expensive camera broke and the $250 price tag to fix it didn’t fall under “immediate need” and 2) We had a bit of remodeling work done on the homestead that completely overtook the summer and early fall. It wasn’t a pretty time here. The kitchen was torn out and unusable for weeks. Bear and I spent more time at Sonic and in Ikea than at home where we were often confined to living in one room while the others were under various forms of demolition. At one point, the only accessible water we had for drinking had to come out of the spout for the tub. Bleak.

The good news is that all of this is behind us, though I did totally have a nightmare about our contractor just two nights ago, so the trauma is REAL. That being said, I’m presently writing you from an updated home where the kitchen has a whole 3ft. of new counter space (up from barely 1ft. Yea, city living!), a tiny dishwasher, and cabinetry like it, quite literally, never had before. Just the perfect space to stage a comeback with these Macho Nachos that get their close-up courtesy of Santa and the new camera he brought me for Christmas. These are perfect for a winter movie night or for the upcoming Super Bowl and satisfy so many different cravings. Let’s get to gettin’, shall we?

Macho Nachos, a river of cheese!Is your first question after viewing this photo “what makes these nachos so macho?” or is it “can I please dive into that and hollow out a home?” The answer to the latter is “Yes, of course you can, weirdo,” and in terms of how these nachos get their moxy, well, let’s just consider their composition. That cheese sauce? It’s a BEER CHEESE SAUCE. You know, like the kind you’d dip soft pretzels into? Yes! It’s smooth and creamy and spiked with just the right amount of ale to make it have that slightly bitter taste that offsets all of the cheese. Studded amidst that boozy golden river of cheese are big, crispy pieces of bacon and slices of a spice-rubbed, grilled sirloin steak. I did say “macho,” friends!

Macho Nachos, Salsa VegBut it’s not just salty, delicious meats and cheeses that make these nachos so macho, you know… It’s big flavors! So on top of all this unctuous goodness is a homemade, charred tomato and pepper salsa that cuts through all of that indulgence with some really bright, fresh taste courtesy of an entire fistful of cilantro, green onions, and jalapeños. This salsa on its own is worth a spot on your Pinterest recipe board for when you want something impressive, but that takes only the effort of pressing the pulse button on your food processor a few times.
MachoNachos, SalsaIn fact, many of the elements on this plate of macho nachos can be made individually to just as many rave reviews as the completed dish. And, let’s just be honest, that nacho beer cheese sauce is going to be good on pretty much anything you put in, or near, your mouth.

Macho Nachos
Macho
Nachos

Makes one large platter, about 8-10 servings

Charred Tomato, Garlic, & Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:
3-4 plum tomatoes, quartered with seeds & guts removed and set aside
1 poblano pepper, de-veined, seeded and cut into large chunks
1/2 large red onion, cut into large chunks
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, de-veined, seeded and cut into large chunks
Olive oil
Salt
1-14.5oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted variety is best)
1 cup of cilantro
Juice of half a lime
3 green onions, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Hot sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. De-pulp/seed/vein tomatoes, peppers, and onion and add to large bowl. Add peeled and chopped garlic cloves. Drizzle with 2-3Tablespoons of olive oil, toss, and sprinkle with salt before tossing again. Arrange vegetables on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until edges are very dark brown and lightly charred. Remove from oven and then add to food processor with reserved tomato pulp, canned tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, cumin, lime juice, and a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Pulse until desired texture is achieved. Store in an airtight container for 7-10 days.

Beer Cheese Nacho Sauce

Ingredients:
4Tablespoons of butter
4Tablespoons of flour
1/2lb. of sliced yellow, deli-style American Cheese (I am partial to Land o’Lakes)
8oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-12oz. bottle of beer (I used Fat Tire’s Amber Ale)
Salt
Hot Sauce

Directions:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it is liquified, whisk in the flour, forming a roux. Cook the roux, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup of the beer while whisking the mixture and allow to thicken slightly. Add both cheeses and half of the remaining beer. Allow to melt completely and season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Remaining 2oz. (and remainder of 6-pack) of beer go to the chef!

Spice-Rubbed Sirloin Steak

Ingredients:
1 sirloin steak (rib-eye & T-bone would also work here)
Olive oil
Canola oil
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 Tablespoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Directions:
Rinse meat, pat dry, and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine spices into a rub. Drizzle meet with olive oil on both sides and then rub spice mixture into meat on both sides and all edges. Heat a grill or grill pan on high with 1 Tablespoon of canola oil and allow to get very hot; oil will ripple to indicate it’s ready. Add steak and cook for 5 minutes, allowing char lines to form. Flip steak and reduce heat to medium high and finish cooking for another 5-7 minutes depending on your desired doneness. When finished, removed meat from pan and allow to rest before slicing or cubing for nachos.

Macho Nachos Assembly
You will need, the above elements, tortilla chips, sour cream, and additional chopped green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, & red onion.

1. Prepare a mountain of your favorite tortilla chips.
2. Pour melted beer cheese sauce over the chips. Be generous.
3. Add ribbons of steak and bacon. Be further generous.
4. Add salsa over the chips to your liking.
5. Crown the pile with a hearty scoop of sour cream, if desired.
6. Sprinkle sliced green onions, cilantro, and diced jalapeños and/or red onion for flourish that your tongue and eyes can appreciate.
7. Serve immediately.
8. Devour!

Bacon Dijon Deviled Eggs

Well, readers, here we are: one day past the week where few could escape the notion, or practice, of hard boiling and dyeing eggs, and one week further into spring where, at least in the Northeast, the days have finally been warming up a little bit. On Saturday, I walked around without my coat on for a solid 30 minutes until the sun ducked behind a cloud and I, miserably, trudged back to the car to get it before resuming the mini antiquing jaunt I took with my mom to a neighboring town. Lion, lamb, I know.

This is all to say that ’tis the season for doing something with hard boiled eggs, which, when I’m faced with, always results in deviled eggs. I resisted deviled eggs until I was about 20, even though my own mother was rumored by family and friends alike to make absolutely delicious ones. When I finally gave in, I realized several things: 1) Everyone loves deviled eggs and I was totally missing out and 2) You can mix almost anything into a standard deviled egg recipe and it only makes them more delicious. So many variations can be born, which brings me to my favorite point about deviled eggs: depending on context even more than ingredients, they can be considered fancy fare or not!

Take these bacon dijon deviled eggs (that even Ollie would, apparently, be interested in eating. Cat bomb!). On that plate up there, with their little pickled onion garnish (I have a whole beautiful quart of these to use, y’all), they look pretty enough for a tea party or some sort of shower. But put them on a table next to some ribs and corn and it’s summer in the backyard being sweaty and lazy with your pals.

Deviled eggs never disappoint and this version is no exception. Who doesn’t want a little smoky, crispy bacon stirred into their eggs alongside the gentle bite of dijon mustard? That sounds like the start of a perfect egg sandwich! I know not everyone will be inspired to go so far as making the pickled onions, but let me just argue for the extra step by simply saying that their addition to these deviled eggs is kismet. The little burst of pickling liquid and onion juice, which so nicely cuts through the richness of egg yolk, mayo, and bacon, is a pairing that shouldn’t be missed. If you do forego the pickled onions, these deviled eggs certainly will not disappoint on their own; though you could always add a little slice or mince of dill pickle to the tops, which would do the job, too.


Bacon Dijon Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions
Yields 24 halves

Ingredients:
1 dozen eggs
1/3 cup of mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of dijon mustard
4-6 pieces of thick sliced bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1 Tablespoon of minced onion or dehydrated onion flakes
1/8 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Pickled onions to garnish, optional

Directions:
Several hours before serving, or better yet, the night before, hard boil the eggs. Using eggs purchased at least a week in advance will help with the peeling process later, as older eggs shed their shell much easier.

Put all 12 eggs in a heavy-bottom pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add a pinch of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Once the eggs begin boiling, cover with lid, remove from heat, and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Drain hot water and fill the pot with cold water until the eggs can be handled. After several minutes remove them from the pot (which will eventually turn the water warm again due to residual heat – you don’t want this to happen!) and gently crack the shells a bit all over. Transfer the eggs to a big bowl of cold water and allow to sit until completely cooled. Pre-cracking the shells here will allow them to loosen as they finish cooling in the second bowl of water.

When the eggs are cooled, crack further and peel. I find peeling them under running water in the sink helps remove the shells easily, too. When finished, slice each egg in half lengthwise, putting the yolks in a clean, dry bowl and lay the whites on the plate you plan to serve them on. In the bowl with the yolks, use a fork to crumble all of the egg yolks. Add a small trickle of water, about a teaspoon, to the yolks to help them cream together a bit before adding the remaining ingredients. Add minced onion, salt and pepper, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and smoked paprika. Blend until fairly smooth. Fold in the chopped bacon and fill the egg white halves. When finished, garnish each with a slice of pickled onion.