I know what you’re thinking, “Nachos aren’t an Irish dish Jonathan. This isn’t something traditionally served in Ireland.” And you’re right. Nachos are a Mexican/Tex-Mex treat. But when it all boils down to it, nachos are freaking delicious no matter where they are served or what they are called. I’m referring to these, as “Irish” nachos because of some of the ingredients I decided to use. I’m recipe re-mixing this bad boy. Throwing out the old and boring—not really I still love regular nachos—and bringing in the new and exciting. We now get to enjoy this classic snack and appetizer with a delicious twist. We should be dancing for joy. Screaming from the top of our lungs. Let’s rejoice and declare it a national holiday. Okay, I think I’ve made my point.
So what makes these nachos so special? What sets them apart from all the rest? What transforms them into “Irish” nachos? It’s not because I think I’m so fancy and I felt the need for an elaborate name, no that’s not it. Okay, maybe only part of the reason. I’m not Irish and I’ve never been to Ireland, so I’m not an expert, although I wish I were. The biggest switch up is that I ditched the tortilla chips. Gone. No more. Get out of here, thank you for coming. Instead this delicious snack starts with potatoes. Doesn’t get any more Irish than that, folks. And if it does, lie to me. Play along and let’s pretend that I’m right or that I’m making sense…for once. But I don’t stop there, no. I also used an Irish cheddar cheese. What?! This is madness! I know! (If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. I demand that you stop everything you are doing now and go to the cheese section of your local specialty store and find it. But really, finish reading this first and then go get it). I also decided to use sausage instead of beef because I figure perhaps in Ireland people prefer sausage over steak or chicken or something. I know I do.
So I ask you my friends, what can be better than a large skillet of potatoes drenched in a cheese sauce, topped with browned sausage, sprinkled with tomatoes and scallions and jalapeños, dabbled with guacamole, drizzled with sour cream and garnished with cilantro? If you said “Nothing! Nothing!!” then you are right. You deserve a prize. Hey! How about Irish nachos for everyone?! In case I haven’t convinced you yet, well, let’s just take another gander at these images. We don’t even need to go any further into this post, we can stop right here. This is where the party is at. Whip out a fork. Let’s dig in.
Now that I’ve tormented you with that up there, how about we get started on our Irish nachos? What do we need, what do we need? Well let me show you. It’s a rather simple dish. It doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or special equipment, aside from that Irish cheddar which incidentally if you can’t find don’t fret. Normal everyday cheddar will be just fine. Food like this should be easy to whip up so that you can make it multiple times a week and gorge on it because it tastes so amazing. You’ll thank me for this later, believe me.
Before we get started with all the nitty gritty nacho-making, we need to partake in a little seasoning blending. Yeah, I just said seasoning blending, it’s a thing.
Throughout this recipe we are going to use our seasoning blend. Let’s be Paula Deen or Emeril Lagasse (take your pick) for a second and call it our “house seasoning” or “essence.” Those are just fancy ways to say a bunch of spices mixed together. We can be cool too.
Into a small bowl, add:
Coarsely ground black pepper
Now give ‘em all a good mix with a fork, or a whisk, or your fingers.
I didn’t want to be a caveman, so I used a fork. I figured I should be civilized on here…for once.
And just like that we have our house seasoning. Essence. BAM!
Nothing to it right?
You can use this for all of your seasoning needs. Fish, chicken, beef, fish, chicken…wait.
Anyhow, use it all the time. We’re going to utilize this multiple times during this recipe, so get used to it.
Let’s get them taters ready!
We need to slice them into circles. Like maybe half of an inch thick? I question it because I’m not entirely sure if it’s half of an inch, but I think so. I didn’t measure it and I’m not great with math and numbers and fractions (headache to the max) so let’s not, and say we did. Half of an inch it is.
**Tip: You can use your knife and cut them by hand. It would take forever but totally doable. Or you can be super genius like me and use a mandolin. What’s a mandolin Jonathan? Well it’s a super cool but super dangerous (I laugh at the face of danger muahahahaha) kitchen tool that enables you to cut things really fast and all the same size without any effort. I found a cheapy one that gets the job done. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I’ve seen some expensive ones at the stores, and I tell myself, “Self, who’s gonna pay that much for a tool we’re only gonna use every once in a while?!” After I reasoned with myself, I moseyed on over to the cheaper plastic one and bought it.**
So give your taters a slice/run through on the mandolin. But STOP when you get towards the end. You don’t need to risk cutting yourself trying to get that last slice. It isn’t worth it trust me.
It makes precision cuts! I told you! It’s like magic. So helpful! Whoa! Gosh I sound like an infomercial now.
When you’ve finished slicing all the taters, dump the slices into a large bowl filled with cold water. This is crucial because it removes all the excess starch from them and will allow the taters to brown up nicely.
Of course we can’t cook wet, soggy potatoes. So the next step is to fish the slices out of the water and pat them dry on a clean kitchen towel.
And then place them on a baking sheet lined with foil paper (makes for easier clean up).
**Note: Make sure you place the slices on the sheet in a single layer! Feel free to crowd them snuggly onto the baking sheet but do not overlap any. This will ensure even browning.**
Now drizzle the slices with some olive oil. Or any kind of oil you have on hand. You can even use cooking spray if you’d like, but you’d have to spray the heck out of them to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. Also the oil will help them brown in the oven.
Oh did I mention that we are roasting these in the oven? We’re not frying them. Look Mom! I’m being healthy!
Now sprinkle with some of our special (wink wink) house seasoning.
No exact measurement. Just lightly sprinkle ‘em taters.
There, the p’taters are ready to hit the oven. Place them in a preheated 425°F oven. No that’s not a typo. We need it to be super duper hot so that they crisp and brown up for us. We want crispy browned potatoes for our nachos not soggy limp potatoes. Who would eat that? Actually I know someone who prefers their potatoes soggy. I won’t embarrass them by saying their name out here for you all to laugh and point at BUT it begins with a J and rhymes with Benny. You know who you are.
Cook the potatoes for about 25 to 30 minutes. Halfway through, turn them over once so they brown on both sides. Also, some ovens are different so your taters might cook sooner or take a little longer. Keep an eye on them.
Okay now that the base of our nachos is done. Let’s work on one of the toppings. The most important one if you ask me. And I know you were so… Now I’m no vegetarian, so I require that my nachos be doused with some kind of meat. I’m using Italian sausage.
We need to heat a heavy duty skillet. I’m using my new handy dandy cast iron skillet. It’s not really new, I got it about two Christmases ago but just recently (like yesterday) got around to seasoning it. I don’t know why it took me this long, but now I’m obsessed with the darn skillet. It’s my best friend. Awwwww.
So like I said I’m using Italian sausage for our Irish nachos. Go figure. You can use sweet or hot, depending on your preference. I used sweet so that I can gage the heat level. Later on I’ll add some red pepper. But that’s later. Stop jumping ahead. Geez.
Remove the sausage from the casing by squishing it. It should come out from one end, or both. Place it into the hot skillet, with no oil. It’ll render some fat while it cooks. So no need for extra fat.
Use a wooden spoon to breakdown and crumble the sausage. Allow it to brown and crisp and cook and get all beautiful for you.
We’re going to add another layer of flavor by chopping a yellow onion. You want it to be finely chopped so that it blends well into the sausage.
We’re also going to mince two garlic cloves because why not?
Add the chopped onion to the browned sausage.
And the minced garlic of course.
Give everything a stir and allow the onion and garlic to cook and get translucent. Lower the heat a little so that nothing burns on you. You want to cook it low and slow. Don’t get impatient.
If you want you can add some red pepper flakes at this point. I want! So I’m adding some. Again, this is why I used the sweet sausage, so that I can control the amount of heat going in. Sometimes the hot sausage is very hot and I can’t do anything about it later on.
Allow that to cook on low for about 5 more minutes so that the flavors develop. Resist the urge to grab a fork and dig in. Save some for the nachos.
Okay, by now the potatoes should be ready to go. Remove them from the oven and gawk at them because that’s all I want to do right now. Just look at these beauties.
If that doesn’t get you, I don’t know what will. Aren’t you glad we lost the tortilla chips? Sure chips are just as tasty but freshly roasted potatoes that look like that for nachos? Ummm, yes please! I’ll take that any day.
Okay, set the potatoes aside. Leave them on the sheet because we’ll need to reheat them in a bit.
Transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl or plate.
We are now going to make the cheese sauce. That glorious cheese sauce for the nachos.
And since I’m all for getting the most flavor possible, we are going to make the sauce in the same skillet we cooked the sausage.
Don’t clean the skillet, that will defeat the purpose.
Just place it over medium heat.
And add a pat of butter. That’s a tablespoon in butter talk. Yes, I talk butter. I think we all should.
We’re making a roux, and if you recall from our Mac and Cheese lesson, a roux is a thickener. It uses some kind of fat, in this case butter, and some sort of dry ingredient, most commonly flour. Roux thickens sauces simple as that.
I wanted to keep this gluten-free because I want us all to be able to enjoy these nachos. I didn’t want those who are gluten-intolerant to suffer. So I’m using potato starch instead of flour. You’ll learn all about potato starch in the Gluten-Free Carrot Bundt Cake Post. If you don’t have potato starch or aren’t gluten-intolerant you can just use flour.
Whisk the butter and potato starch (or flour if using) together and allow it to cook for a few seconds.
It’ll start to become a light brown color and smell a little nutty.
Pour in the warm milk, slowly, while whisking.
**Note: Make sure the milk is warmed in the microwave or in a small sauce pot before adding it to the skillet. This will make for a better sauce and get thicker for you quicker.**
We’re going to season it with our house seasoning. Again, no specific amount. Just a few pinches. Lower the heat and allow it to bubble and thicken. It’ll be like magic, and thicken right before your eyes. Just keep whisking it every so often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Once thick, add the Irish cheddar. Or any cheese you decide to use. Two big handfuls. The more the better. I abide by the rule that it can never be too cheesy.
Whisk it all together until the cheese melts. You can turn off the heat at this point. The heat from the sauce will melt it perfectly.
At this point you can reheat the potatoes by placing them in the oven for a few minutes and heat up the browned sausage as well, while you’re at it.
Let’s get some of the other toppings ready. The usual suspects when it comes to nachos. We’re pulling out all the stops.
Tomatoes. Give them a rough dice.
Cut, remove seed and scoop into bowl. Squeeze with fresh lime juice to keep it from browning, season with a pinch of our house seasoning and give it a smash with a fork, until completely smooth.
I’m using the pickled kind you find in a can. The perfect accompaniment to nachos. Slice them.
And last but certainly not least, scallions.
Slice them on an angle. Just because it looks better that way.
All the components are done! It’s about time, I know!
We are ready to assemble these killer nachos.
I only have the one cast iron skillet (I’m not made of money) and I wanted to assemble the nachos in it so I transferred my cheese sauce and semi-wiped down the skillet.
In an unprecedented event here on the site, I will be quiet for the next several images. I’m going to allow the images to do all the work for me.
Don’t mind that fuzzy image of the tomato step. Only one I got for some reason. Let’s pretend it’s not there. And for that matter, let’s forget I just pointed it out to you. And those last two steps were sour cream and cilantro, in case you were wondering since I didn’t mention it before.
I think I can safely say that we are done. This is about the time I’d set it on the table and ring the bell and tell everyone to come and get it because it’ll be gone in two seconds.
Or this would also be the time where I wouldn’t tell anyone and I’d take it to a corner and eat it all by myself. I can be that greedy when it comes to nachos.
But if you want to share, I guess that’s alright too. You can assemble them into individual portions as well, making yourself the bigger portion. Shhhh, I wont tell anyone.
I don’t want to be the one to say it but I’ll say it anyway, this would go fantastically well with a beer. I know you were thinking it too. An ice cold chilly brew. In a tall glass. Scratch that. In a giant mug. A giant chilled mug. Yup, that sounds about right. Well now that it’s out there I guess it’s okay to have a cold one with this. Maybe a few. This is a bar snack isn’t?
This can be a great appetizer before an even better meal. Or you can serve it as a side to a delicious sandwich, piled high with yummy ingredients. It’s also a perfect snack right before bed. If you’re into that sort of thing. I feel it might be a bit heavy right before bed, but you know what? I don’t judge. If you want this as a late night snack, who am I to say that you can’t? All bets are off when it comes to nachos.
Sometimes I like to pretend I’m participating in one of those challenges on Man vs. Food. I’ll tell myself, “You can totally eat like 20 pounds worth of nachos in half an hour. No biggie.” I’ll eat and eat and eat, chanting “Jon, Jon, Jon, Jon.” It doesn’t matter that I’m not really on a television show. In my head, I am. It also doesn’t phase me that I get to about 10 bites before I’m full and throw in the towel. But hey, the intent is there. Do I get any brownie points for that? I think I should, folks. I think I should.
Not your traditional Tex-Mex nachos. These are transformed into Irish nachos with potatoes, Irish cheddar and browned sausage. Top with the recommend toppings or your favorite. This remains gluten-free by incorporating potato starch into the roux, but you can use all-purpose flour if you do care about that sort of thing.
yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2½ pounds (about 5 small to medium) russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Italian sausages, removed from casings
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon potato starch (or all-purpose flour)
- 2 cups whole milk, warmed
- 2 cups Irish cheddar cheese, grated (or white cheddar cheese)
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 2 pickled jalapeños, sliced
- 2 avocados, smashed with fresh lime juice
- sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl combine the salt, black pepper, garlic and onion powder, and cayenne pepper. This is the “house seasoning” for the nachos. Set aside. Using a mandolin or a knife, slice the potatoes about ½ of an inch thick, in circles. Place on the prepared baking sheets on a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the house seasoning blend. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through baking, until golden brown and crispy.
3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Remove the sausage from the casing and place in the heated skillet. Using a wooden spoon breakdown the sausage and allow to brown and crisp up, about 5 minutes. Throw in the diced onion and minced garlic. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the red pepper, if using. Lower the heat to low and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate.
4. In the same skillet, set over medium heat, melt the butter and sprinkle in the potato starch or all-purpose flour. Whisk together and cook for a few seconds. Slowly stream in the warmed milk while continuously whisking. Season with the house seasoning and allow to thicken. Cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat and add the grated Irish cheddar cheese. Whisk until completely melted and smooth. Rewarm the potatoes in the oven for a few minutes.
5. Place the potatoes on a platter, bowls, or a skillet. Top with cheese sauce and browned sausage and onion mixture. Sprinkle with diced tomatoes, sliced scallions, sliced pickled jalapeños, avocado (mashed with lime juice and seasoned with house seasoning), sour cream and cilantro. Eat right away. Enjoy!