Every now and then I fantasize about writing a cookbook called 99 Kinds of Nachos. Why? I have a crazy attraction to melted cheese drizzled over chips and bits. I also like appetizers that masquerade as meals. I have toyed with sauerkraut nachos, with shredded corned beef over rye bagel chips; I have dabbled in breakfast nachos that feature bacon and chives, with a sunnyside-up egg shimmering across a layer of salsa.
Is there anything that can't be nacho-ed?
A recent grocery-store sample of Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix set my mind in motion again. Here was a melter, a sharp, complex cheese with caramel notes. I pictured onions, I pictured crispy chips. Gruyere, so good atop French onion soup, calls out for meaty, textured compliments, and so I stood by the dairy case and dreamed of nachos.
The Swiss, who masterminded Gruyere, would probably find my vision horrific, but Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix is made in Wisconsin, and the Midwest is something of a nacho mecca, at least in dive bars. Forget that runny cheese sauce, and try playing Gruyere's sweet, assertive flavors off rosemary and grilled steak. Sweat those onions, break out some really good chips, and pour yourself a cold one. These nachos are a sure cure for cabin fever.
Gruyere and Grilled Skirt Steak Nachos
1 bag restaurant-quality tortilla chips 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced 2 cups chopped mushrooms 1 red pepper, sliced lengthwise 2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 large tomato, diced 1/4 cup chopped olives (preferably nicoise) 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped 2 cups grated Grand Cru Surchoix Gruyere 1 lb. skirt steak. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 2 Tablespoons brown sugar 1 large garlic clove, minced 1 tsp. rosemary, dried ground pepper
Marinate skirt steak in balsamic, brown sugar, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper. Refrigerate one hour or overnight. Then grill or broil, 4-6 minutes per side.
As the meat cooks, heat skillet, add oil, and fry onions and mushrooms over medium heat until edges darken. Then lower the heat and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add red pepper slices during final 2 minutes.
To assemble, slice meat thinly and spread chips on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Top with meat, veggies, and grated cheese. Broil for 2 minutes, or until cheese melts. Then top with fresh tomatoes, olives, and parsley. Add salt to taste.
Serve with salsa or hot sauce, if desired.