Man cannot live on beer alone. And while many attempt this feat on St. Patrick’s Day, it helps to have something in your stomach to keep you from feeling green the next day. Something filling and a bit greasy to coat your stomach nicely and ease the tilting; something like Irish Nachos.
When I returned to college in 2008, I was 31 years old, a mom, and I knew nobody. It was an escape into the adult world, but one lived vicariously since I was very much an outsider. I had nothing in common with these kids in their teens and early twenties other than the courses we shared. I was very much alone in a sea of people.
Then I met Anna. Anna, who somehow ended up in 3 of my 4 courses that semester, despite them being divided between two different campuses. Anna who lived not 2 miles from my house. Anna who also was a mom to two children, both around the same ages as my own. Anna who was feisty, outspoken, opinionated–a real “hot mess,” as she put it. Anna who became my savior.
We joked about how we were the old ladies (mind you, Anna is six years younger than I) and we needed to have an authentic college experience somehow, even though we lived very different lives than our counterparts. We needed a chance to be young and free, too. We weren’t going to let geography keep us from what every other college kid was doing. And that’s how Thursday nights at the local bar were born.
Call it mid-life crisis, but it became something I looked forward to every week. A chance to let loose and let our hair down; to sample local brews (well, I sampled local brews; Anna always held out high hopes for Heineken, but, alas, our bar never carried it); to sing karaoke; to people watch; to take in the moment and savor it. Sure, she couldn’t make it every week–that’s what happens when you live in the real world–but that didn’t matter. Because when she was there, we were unstoppable. Two moms willing to take on the world. Or at least complain about our coursework together.
On nights when Anna was running late, I would order an appetizer to tide me over, giving me something to do so I didn’t feel like the weirdo all by herself at the bar. One of my favorites inspired the dish I’m sharing today: Irish Nachos. The bar has since changed ownership, the menu altered eternally, but the memory lives on. I can only hope these do them justice.
I highly recommend you cook the potatoes in reserved bacon fat, but if that grosses you out (I don’t know how it could, but you never know), a little melted butter or coconut oil will work nicely, too. The end result is a tad greasy, definitely messy, but not to be missed. You can add jalapenos if you’d like an extra bit of bite to them, but I really like them the way I made them. A little like potato skins, but infinitely better. A must-make for St. Patrick’s Day!
Here’s to good friends! May your lives be full of them!
- 3-4 slices thick cut bacon, reserving the bacon fat
- 1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 cup shredded Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey
- 3 strands fresh chives, chopped
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lay out your bacon slices (it's not a bad idea to bake extra and save for future use, while you're at it).
- Place cookie sheet in the oven, set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bacon has reached desired crispness.
- Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate to drain and set aside the bacon fat remaining in the cookie sheet.
- Turn oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash but do not peel the potatoes. Slice thinly on the long side and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place sliced potatoes in a large bowl, add 2 Tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and toss the potatoes.
- Spread potato slices out on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 20 minutes or until they've reached desired crispness.
- Crumble bacon while you're waiting (I prefer using my kitchen shears to snip it) and shred the cheese.
- Place 1 layer of potato slices on an oven-safe plate, sprinkle ⅓ the cheese, ⅓ the bacon, then repeat. Do this til you have 3 layers. Sprinkle chopped chives over the top and place the plate in the still-hot (but now turned off) oven to melt the cheese.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Disclosure: I am member of the Kerrygold Food Blogger Network and was provided with coupons for free Kerrygold cheese, which was used to make this recipe. All opinions and photographs remain my own, unless otherwise stated.