Irish Potato Nachos

About 5 year ago, I met up with a couple of my best girlfriends in the city, with the intention of grabbing a late lunch somewhere. We were all going through various disastrous relationship situations and craving a cozy, girly afternoon together away from the guys.

It was the middle of January, and freezing, and after a couple blocks of not finding any place interesting, we gave up and decided to just go into the first place that looked warm and had seating.

That's how we ended up having our girls night at Rogue, a sports bar on a random corner in Chelsea. There was a football game on and the place was filled with men in jerseys rooting loudly for one team or another.

We were the only girls in the place and had no interest in the game, but we were too cold and too hungry to care. We were seated in the middle, and buckets of Corona appeared on the table, courtesy of the guys at the bar.

The menu was made up mostly of the usual bar appetizers--wings, fries, mozzarella sticks, etc., but there was one thing that caught our eye: Irish Nachos.

We ordered it, and it was the perfect thing to warm us up. Hot, thick slices of potato baked to a slight crisp topped with cheese, sour cream, bacon, salsa, and spicy jalapenos.

We fought over each other to devour them and then requested a second and third order to accompany the additional buckets of beer that kept arriving thanks to the generous guys.

The free beers and salty food soon started to take effect, and it wasn't long before we were shouting at the TV along with the guys, laughing hysterically because we didn't even know who we were meant to be rooting for, but enjoying it all the same.

Not exactly the girly day we'd been hoping for, but still somehow, surprisingly, perfect.

Those Irish Nachos have been on my list of things I'd like to recreate for a while now, and seemed like the ideal dish to finally tackle now that the weather is starting to cool and the games are back on.  The thick, crispy slices of potato stand up to the hearty toppings much better than the usual tortilla chips, which have a tendency to get soggy.

I keep my version simple, but it's definitely the sort of thing you could have fun with, adding things like refried beans, pulled pork or brisket, and any manner of salsas.

Just the thing, no matter whom you're rooting for.

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Irish Potato Nachos Recipe
Serves 4 as an appetizer or snack

6 large russet potatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
6 strips bacon
1/2 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup pickled jalapeno slices
1 cup sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
3 green onions (scallions), minced--green parts only
Chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse and scrub potatoes well under running water to remove dirt. Dry well with paper towels and slice into 1/2" thick slices (leave peels on). Place in a large bowl and toss potato slices with a few tablespoons of olive oil until well coated. Sprinkle generously with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and toss again to coat. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, making sure none overlap, and bake about 20-30 minutes, or until the slices are cooked through and just a bit golden and crispy on top.

While potatoes bake, cook the bacon strips until crisp. Drain on paper towels, chop into small pieces, and set aside. 

When ready, remove cooked potatoes from oven and arrange potato slices in a round oven-safe baking dish or cast iron skillet. (Do not turn the oven off.) Top with the chopped, cooked bacon, followed by the shredded cheese and jalapeno slices. Pop the baking dish back into the still-hot oven and let cook 2-5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly. Remove from oven and top with sour cream, green onions, and Tabasco sauce (if using). Serve immediately.

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