I haven’t done one of those genetic history tests, but I know the results would reveal my ancestors to be very pale and mostly Irish (or some combination of Irish and Welsh). But honestly, I feel about as Irish as a plate of Irish nachos, which do not come from Ireland and have never been to Ireland — but you can imagine yourself hanging out with them over a pint.
Irish nachos are a simple dish. All you need is some sort of fried potatoes to serve as a base, and all the stuff you’d usually pile onto a “fully loaded” baked potato or potato skin. Most Irish nachos are made by melting cheese on potato chips or fried sliced potatoes and topping them with bacon bits, sour cream, and chives or scallions. This is fine — good even — but it could be better.
My preferred nachos, regardless of nationality, are always made with a cheese sauce — in this case, a beer cheese sauce. You can make a beer cheese sauce with any beer, but I chose Guiness, which is both on theme and on point in regard to flavour. It brings a bitter, malty character to the sauce that pairs particularly well with a super sharp Irish cheddar. Rather than a sauce that boasts a single flavour (cheese), you get a sauce with character and punch, a sauce you cannot stop eating.
In addition to potato chips, this sauce is good with bread and pretzels, and it’s phenomenal as a fondue for crisp, tart apples, or as a dip for pigs in a blanket. (This recipe makes a lot, so it’s good to have multiple uses for it lined up.)
Guiness Beer Cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon MSG
- 350 ml Guiness, or other dry Irish stout
- 1 cup whole milk
- 12 ounces sharp Irish cheddar, grated
Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan or pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and MSG and stir to make a paste, and continue cooking until the mixture becomes foamy and no lumps remain.
Slowly add the beer, then the milk, stirring continuously. Bring to a simmer and let it cook, stirring frequently, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese in small handfuls, stirring after each addition until fully melted. Serve immediately. (Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat over low heat on the stove.)
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