Who doesn’t like a heaping portion of an appetizer for dinner? Those classic, usually dangerous, but oh so tasty, tiny meals that you can share with some friends around a table, drinks in hand. We look forward to these snacks! We accept them, happily, and devour them as a group. But what makes appetizers so dangerous? Could it be the cheese they’re usually topped with? The sour cream they’re usually served with? The buttery hot sauce they’re usually smothered in? Or is it the deep fried factor? Nope, I think it’s the mere fact that we go to these restaurants famished, again because of our busy schedules we don’t find time to eat, so we end up finishing up an appetizer, dare I say, maybe even two? And then dinner comes next, we down a whole plate to ourselves….perhaps we still have a tiny little spot for dessert? Split of course, because it makes us feel better. Why not bypass all that and just have an appetizer for dinner. Well, appetizer inspired, but definitely dinner portion. What? I’m not crazy. There’s no way I could just eat an appetizer sized portion for supper and be satisfied. The mere thought of having a cheese sauce drenched dinner, topped with all sorts of delectable toppings, makes me very happy indeed. Throw in some chips into the mix and I’m sold. You’ve got me. Well, to be honest, I was sold at the cheesy appetizer part.
The other day I wanted to make a simple and fast dinner that my family would love. So I thought, why not nachos? That’s fast. That’s simple. Knowing my carnivore sister would be there, I knew I had to throw in some kind of meat or chicken. I quickly thought of steak. Then I thought “What would make this better?” Grilled Steak. Marinated Grilled Steak. Marinated Grilled Steak topped with beans. Marinated Grilled Steak topped with beans topped with salsa, sour cream and guacamole….naturally. And they couldn’t be any ordinary nachos, I had to make my own cheese sauce. Just had to.
First things first: A little quick salsa recipe? Yes please!
Peel the onion and throw it into a food processor. Give it a couple pulses to chop it down.
Now grab the fresh tomatoes.
Slice them in half, to help the food processor along.
Add them to the onions.
Give these a couple pulses as well. You want it sort of chunky, as we’ll still be breaking them down even more later on.
Now, open up the two cans of tomatoes, drain them, and add to the party.
I like using both fresh and canned tomatoes. Plus this one has peppers inside so it gives it a kick.
The fresh and the canned balance each other perfectly.
Squeeze in the lime juice. Three words: Fresh Lime Juice Please. Okay so that’s four words.
A couple cloves of garlic. Peeled.
Throw in a handful of cilantro.
Season with Salt and Pepper.
Super blurry picture….Wasn’t paying attention, I guess. I was focusing on the top part of the food processor bowl, because clearly that’s what’s important here.
A little bit of sugar.
Sugar?!?! I know what you’re thinking, “Sugar, let’s not be silly now.” BUT have no fear, it doesn’t sweeten the salsa, it just cuts some of the acidity of the tomatoes and allows it all to balance out.
Pulse and pulse and pulse until it is all combined and looks like a uniformed mixture.
Check on seasoning. What’s the best way to do this? With a chip! Grab a chip and test it out.
If the seasoning is good, move it to a bowl and reserve for later.
Let’s season the meat now.
I have here flap steak. Its thin and has perfect marbling for grilling. And its yummy on top of nachos.
We’re going to dump it in a bowl and season it.
One of the first things we’re going to use is Achiote paste. Its a mayan spice blend that is used a lot in Central America. It has great stuff in it like annatto, oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, allspice, garlic, and black pepper. It’s wonderful.
You can pretty much find it anywhere these days. Most markets have it.
Its a deep red color because of the annatto seeds.
Add some to the meat. A little goes a long way with this stuff.
We’re also going to season it with the following, and in this order, (must be done in this order or it’ll come out bad! Okay, I kid, I kid):
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Garlic Powder (Not Garlic Salt)
Onion Powder (Not Onion Salt)
Red Pepper Flakes
Give it a good mix, with your hands. Get dirty, its okay. Cooking is fun, remember?
Now it’s important to let this sit in the fridge and marinate for a couple hours. Maybe even overnight, if you could wait that long.
But if not, an hour will do. Well, you could definitely just grill it at this point and it will still taste amazing, but if you really want to develop the flavor, let it marinate for a bit. At least 30 minutes.
I like to do it over night, so it really gets inside the steak.
Lucky for us, its magic, and we don’t have to wait that long.
Get a grill scorching hot, either a stove top one or an outdoor grill.
Once the grill pan is extremely hot, place the steak on it and grill the first side for about 5-7 minutes. You really want to develop those grill marks.
Cook until it is charred and marked on the first side.
Then flip it over and continue cooking for another 4-6 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked.
Transfer cooked steak to a plate and allow to rest so that the juice stays locked in. Meanwhile, continue cooking the rest of the steak.
While the rest grills, lets multi-task and make our cheese sauce.
It’s much like our Mac and Cheese sauce, but I’ll show you again for those of you just joining us (Welcome, Welcome).
We start of with a little butter…because lets face it, all good things start off with butter.
Melt the butter through and add in a bit of flour.
I just have to show off my whisk….
Okay, where were we? Oh yea, flour. Throw in a bit of flour.
We’re making a roux (a thickener, if you recall our cooking lesson terminology from before).
Whisk together and allow to cook for a few minutes.
You want it to smell nutty, not like raw flour.
Now stream in the milk while you whisk. This prevents clumping. If you just dump it all in, you’ll have a clumpy lumpy dumpy sauce….it’ll still work, but lets do it right.
Allow to cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened.
Let’s give it that old spoon test to see if its thickened. Run a finger along the side of the back of a wooden spoon, if the sauce forms a line its thick enough….
Then season the sauce.
Spoon Test Hot Sauce
S&P, Onion and Garlic Powder, Paprika, and Mix
Once the sauce is seasoned, reduce heat to low, as low as it will go.
It’s time for the cheese. Freshly grate both pepperjack and cheddar.
Throw it in the sauce and melt away.
Once the cheese has completely melted, keep the sauce warm on very very low heat, while we finish up.
The meat has rested now so lets give it a chop.
That’s it, we’re done. Super simple right?
Now lets assemble our Nachos.
Here are some topping choices:
I used, Black Beans (Boiled my own, but canned works just fine)
Homemade Salsa (See Above)
Guacamole (You can find the recipe here!)
Sour Cream (Yum!)
Let’s start the assembling process.
Tortilla Chips, any kind you like.
Cheese Sauce. Lots of cheese sauce.
And just because nothing else fits on this plate, we’re done.
But believe me, if I could add more to this, I would!
This is a hearty meal. Sure its on a bed of chips, drenched in cheese sauce, but hey, there’s some veggies on here. Protein from the steak and iron from the black beans. We’ll say it’s healthy (er, than most nachos). We did make it ourselves so that counts for something. We only live once, and I’ll enjoy my nacho dinner feast, any night of the week, thank you very much. Go on and make it, you know you want to.
Grilled Steak Nachos
For the Salsa:
- 5 small to medium Tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion or half of a medium
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 Tablespoons Cilantro
- 2 Cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chillies
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the Steak:
- 1 pound Flap Steak
- 1 tsp Achiote Paste
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 2 tablespoons Worchestire Sauce
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cilantro
Throw everything into a large bowl and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or overnight.
Pre-heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Once the grill is extremely hot, place the steak on and allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes on the first side. Once it has charred and browned, flip the meat over and continue cooking for another 4-6 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked.
Remove from the grill and place on a plate to rest for about 4 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil while it is resting, to keep warm.
Chop up the steak to the desired size and reserve for topping.
For the cheese sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 tablespoons Flour
- 2 Cups Milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 paprika
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- 1 cup Cheddar, grated
- 1 cup Pepper Jack, grated
In a sauce pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, had the flour. Whisk together and allow to cook until it is brown and nutty about 2-3 minutes.
Slowly stream in the milk while you while constantly. Allow the sauce to cook and thicken. When the sauce has thickened, lower the flame to low. Season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, paprika, and hot sauce. Stir in the cheese and melt thoroughly.
To assemble the nachos, place a handful of chips on a plate. Top with the cheese sauce and any toppings of your choice. I used our grilled steak, black beans, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and scallions. There’s no precise measurements for this, just use all or some, anything you want. The sauce and the chips are like a blank canvas, a starting point for any of your great recipes. Serve immediately. Enjoy.