An Ode To Nachos
For as long as I can remember, there have been two foods that have held a very special place in my heart: pizza and nachos. They both offer a level of customization rarely found in other foods, they're both eaten with your hands, and they're both cheesy. So cheesy. Plus, both have the range of going from very classy (Pizzeria Mozza) to borderline disgusting (Sbarro), much like myself. In my young chunkster days, the pinnacle of my nacho eating was at the Blues games. Those salty, kind of stale chips; the plastic, neon orange cheese sauce; the world's crappiest pickled jalapenos. I loved it then and I love it now. I know that the KielSavvis Scottrade Center has fancy nacho stands now with gourmet offerings like BBQ meats and olives, but I have no interest in those. I want the crappiest $10 nachos I can get.
I got a craving for these nachos the other day, and deep in the recesses of my mind, I recalled seeing a Serious Eats recipe for nacho cheese sauce. I knew that once I started making cheese sauce, I would never stop, but resistance was futile. Recipe in hand, I headed to Schnuck's.
I grabbed the first bag of chips I saw, a jar of generic pickled jalapenos, evaporated milk, then headed to the deli counter to get cheese. I asked for roughly half a block of American cheese, to the horror of the man behind the counter. He made me repeat what I was asking for 2 more times before he finally, hesitantly, chopped it. I also grabbed about 1/4 of a block of sharp cheddar, just in case I decided to class things up a bit.
I followed Kenji's recipe and was quite pleased with the result. My American cheese lacked the neon orange color of Scottrade Center's cheese, which was fine. The texture and flavor was much more reminiscent of Shake Shack's cheese sauce, if you're familiar with that. Thinner and milkier than the plastic cheese.
As I sat there, munching away on my nachos, I started to get ideas. Crazy ideas. Wild ideas. Genius ideas?
I will make a series of out-of-the-box nacho recipes that are sure to blow minds. I've been in the nacho lab for days now, and I gotta say, there are some awesome things coming your way. Prepare yourselves. These will be perfect as the Blues march into the 1st round of the playoffs (and blow it) or for some summer time get togethers.
I advise you start playing around with Kenji's recipe, as it will serve as the basis for almost every cheese sauce I make in the coming weeks. In the mean time, if you have any genius nacho ideas, leave me a comment below. Blow my mind. Things like banh mi nachos.