I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for bar food. Rings, wings, Buffalo-style anything, if it’s deep-fried, salty, gooey and generally bad for you, it’s probably something I love. I indulge on occasion, but more often, I think of ways to make those treats at home, preparing them in a way that is more in line with our typical way of eating.
Generally, when I roll out an interpretation of this type of food, it’s for one of our cocktail parties, or for a small gathering of friends – I generally don’t think to make a meal out of it. But I wanted to do something a little different for our meatless Monday dinner, and when I thought of the things we had around – the extra ears of grilled corn from Sunday night, the corn tortillas, radishes, cabbage and salsa from the farmers’ market, some leftover cooked rice, the beans we’ve always got on hand, and of course cheese – my general direction was clear, but none of my usual preparations were sending me. But then I thought: nachos.
Deep-fried, salty, gooey nachos. Oh, yes. Cutting the tortillas into wedges and frying them would be simple, and we had an abundance of good stuff to top them with, but I didn’t want to turn on the oven to melt the cheese, so I decided to make a cheese sauce, instead – a little butter, a little flour, a little milk and a variety of odds and ends of cheese which were lingering in the fridge, spiked with cumin and Tabasco. It would be pourable, dribbling into all of those nooks and crannies and layers of toppings, so much nicer than plain old melted cheese, and a lot more flavorful than that microwave-in-a-jar cheese “product”.
The nachos were built on a base of homemade chips, with layers of black rice and beans reheated with a bit of salsa, then the grilled corn, cut off the cob and tossed with diced roasted red pepper and some of my pickled chiles, the cheese sauce, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, and a little salsa and creme fraiche on top.
Now tell me you don’t want a bite of that.