A: Nacho Cheese
Hold on to your hats folks, there are more quality jokes where that one came from.
I am a big fan of most things USA-related. For while, for some people, USA bashing seems to be a hobby, I was raised by a mother who had spent time working for the US Army, and was a big fan, a trait she has passed down to me. It isn't a big surprise, then, that I'm a big fan of the celebration of America The Beautiful that is Superbowl Sunday. The anthems! The incomprehensible rules! The adverts! The half time spectacular! (I try to kid myself but truly, Beyonce was the biggest draw for me this year. Please can I be her when I grow up?) I love the idea of having people over for Superbowl Sunday, to the point where last year I tweeted this:
Feel like I should have people over for Superbowl Sunday and feed them burgers and sliders
— Suzanne Hitchen (@suzienewshoes) February 5, 2012
whereas in reality here, it's shown on a Monday when most people I know with regular jobs are at work. Neither me nor Andy are burdened with a regular job though, so this year, I decided to go full on Americana with the menu. Pancakes for breakfast, Nacho Cheese for lunch, Burgers for tea.
I remember the first time I tasted Nacho Cheese. It took me until my twenties to finally realise that if I had the money, it was perfectly ok to buy cinema food, rather than taking my own pre-prepared snacks. Sort of like the moment when you realise you could buy a box of After Eights not as a gift and eat them yourself any time you want to.
Nacho Cheese had me hooked from the start. The salty nachos, the tangy pickled jalapenos, the luminous, wondrous thing that was liquid cheese sauce. One of those things I always assumed I couldn't recreate at home without recourse to a vat of chemicals and some industrial-strength food colouring. I was over the moon to read this Food 52 article which described how to make it yourself at home, with the brilliant addition of turmeric for colour. It was tangy, it was spicy, it was cheesy. I actually found myself adding more cheese than recommended surprisingly, as I used a mature cheddar as opposed to the milder Monterey Jack that is in the original. We went full on cheesy overload on this, to the point where we couldn't face the burgers later on. No matter, we had them the next day and I used the leftover Nacho Cheese sauce as a topping for them.
Q: What cheese would you use to disguise a small horse?
Q: What cheese would you use to lure a bear out of the woods?
Q: What does the cheese say when it looks in the mirror?
Right, on with something I'm actually good at: the food.
Nacho Cheese Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Half an onion, finely chopped
2 green chillis, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
0.25 teaspoon ground turmeric
0.25 teaspoon paprika
0.25 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons plain flour
0.25 cup cream
1 cup buttermilk
80g mature, strong cheddar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion, chilli, tomato, turmeric, paprika and cayenne. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the onion softens.
Add the rest of the butter and flour, cook for another 2 minutes to 'cook out' the flour. Add the cream, half the buttermilk, and the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the remaining buttermilk gradually until the sauce is smooth, rich and velvety.
Blend until completely smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil. Taste and season as you like.
This can be made a day in advance, kept in a sealed container in the fridge and reheated for a minute or so in the microwave.
Serve with nachos and pickled jalapenos, while watching a game you don't understand in a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.