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

Makes one large platter, about 8-10 servings

Charred Tomato, Garlic, & Pepper Salsa

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
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

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

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)
Hot Sauce

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

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

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!

My favorite national pastime

Isn’t there a Beyoncé concert on TV tonight? Possibly flanked by halves of some kind of sporting event???

The countdown is finally over (see what I did there?)! Happy Bey Day, y’all!

Super Bowl Sliders

Super Bowl Sunday is practically a national holiday in this house where we gather with our chosen family to watch the game and, of course, partake in food that evokes modern, American masculinity. This last part is mostly a joke because while we’ve done the chili, and the burgers, and the beer cheese soup (omg, this needs to happen again immediately), it’s also usually my dear femme bestie, Charlotte, and I scouring over our Pinterest boards deciding what we want to eat and what our other guests will put up with. Like, last year we drank raspberry beer spritzers while our beaus looked on in horror and this year there was mention of making homemade cannolis. See how we just went and upgraded Super Bowl Sunday? Boom.

This year, I wanted to make something easy, but also totally delicious and absolutely game day appropriate. It took all of a quick browse through the supermarket flier to be reminded by a sale on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls that I wanted to make these sandwiches I had pinned a while back – Funeral Sandwiches! Before Pinterest was born and caused me to love something more than I do my cats, I had heard distant rumor of these beloved little baked ham and cheese sliders. Word in my family is that the long-estranged, now deceased, Aunt Ida, learned to make them when she moved to the South in the 70’s. This was before the schism between her and the family had erupted to the point where culinary boons like this one were no longer shared. I tried to find the true origin of the funeral sandwich, but all of my fancy (read: Catfish-inspired) Internet research could tell me was that these were a popular food to take to post-funeral luncheons or to provide to a grieving family. I love literal foods.

The Super Bowl is a happy time though, so down with the gloom and up with getting these into your mouth immediately! In fact, that’s what Bear and I did tonight. Under the guise of “recipe testing,” we made a batch of these for dinner in order to be certain they were Super Bowl worthy and by god, Aunt Ida, they were! If you are a savory-sweet hound like me, these should go straight to the top of your to-do list because what I’m being awfully coy about in stretching this out, is telling you that they are ham & cheese sliders drizzled with a sweet onion and poppyseed glaze that causes them to bake up all toasty, half crispy and half gooey. The sweet ham, the tangy swiss, the worcestershire and brown sugar in the marinade…are you drooling yet? I am and I just had them in my mouth a few hours ago. Dang that buttery, savory smell lingering in the air!

Is it Sunday yet?

Super Bowl Sliders, or Funeral Rolls
*Adapted from the many different versions of this recipe found here.
Makes 12 sliders

1-12 pack of King’s Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
1/2lb. thinly sliced honey or pit ham (I made half of mine with herbed deli turkey because I had it and I was trying to use it up. Also a tasty option!)
1/2lb. thinly sliced Swiss cheese
1/4-1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 stick + 2Tablespoons of butter, melted
1-1/2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons of dehydrated onion flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400°. Select a baking dish that both has an edge and can accomodate 12 sliders, allowing them to touch. I used a quarter sheet pan (13-inches by 9-inches) with a 1-inch edge. Cut rolls in half and line baking dish with bottoms. Top each with ham and cheese. Apply mayonnaise to inside of bun tops and place on top of sandwiches. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter with mustard, onion flakes, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and poppy seeds. When combined, pour over the top of the sandwich buns making certain to also get drizzle over the gaps where the sandwiches are slightly touching. Cover pan with aluminum foil. From here, you can either go right into the oven, covered, or put them in the refrigerator overnight to marinate longer. Either way, once they are in the oven, allow them to bake covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove foil and allow to continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes or until tops are brown. Because of the butter, they brown up quickly, so keep an eye on them. If you walk away for a solid 10 minutes without checking, you very well might come back to burnt buns! Once out of the oven, allow to set up for 5 minutes and then dig in! Best paired with ice cold beer and plenty of jokes about tight ends.