We’ve all been there, standing in line at a Yankee’s game, shelling out $36 for 3.5 ounces of beer, when hunger pangs strike. You look around and assess your options. Emulsified pork-in-a-tube that’s been wading in tepid water since the summer of `87. No thanks, I’ll pass.
Then it hits you: nachos! Boom, everything is good again. Your mouth waters as the concession stand worker pumps that sweet, sweet yellow nectar all over the tortilla chips. (If I could create a GIF of those magical 13 seconds, and have it eternally loop in my head, I would happily trade away my first born.)
But there’s that nagging question, the one we do everything we can to avoid: “Is that stuff REALLY cheese?” As quick is the thought appears, it’s deflected and stored in that special little corner of our brain that houses all of our poor food choice decisions. But the truth is, that nacho sauce that’s pumped out of a tub, or the stuff that comes spewing out of aerosol cans is cheese in the same sense that margarine is butter.
The mythological story (courtesy of Bloomberg) of nachos is a fellow down in Mexico named Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya needed to feed some American tourists. He reached for a wheel of Wisconsin cheddar, grated it on top of some tortillas, and plopped on some jalapenos. Today, many of the commercial available nacho cheese dips, spreads, and goos might be flavored with cheddar, but contain such lovely emulsifying, hydrogenating, and stabilizing ingredients like modified tapioca starch, maltodextrin, and sodium stearoyl (YUM!). And while the FDA has many classifications of cheese manufactured in the United States, “nacho” seems to be left off the list. This means that nacho cheese can really be whatever you want it to be, and food companies can slap the word “nacho” on any old cheese flavored product they feel like. It’s marketing, y’all!
So now, approaching Super Bowl Sunday, we’re offering a recipe (adapted from The Foodie Affair) for some high-brow nachos for game day. Because while the goopy yellow “cheeze” has a soft spot in our hearts, we’re real cheese people, thankyouverymuch.
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 4 cups (1 pound) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded. We like to use any mix of the following cheeses: Tickler Cheddar, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, English Cheddar or Prairie Breeze Cheddar
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until fragrant and soft. Add garlic and blend into onions.
- Add flour to the onion mixture, stirring for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Add milk and begin adding cheese one cup at a time. Stir until melted and warm (approximately 5 minutes).