I’m eating myself silly today. The good news is most of it is not that bad for me and I’m keeping portion size a lot smaller. The bad news is…cheese sauce is just too good to give up. Ever. And I love a good cheese sauce.
This dish is an 11 year old tradition in our house. Before we were married, we would meet at my apartment (since that’s where I lived and the food lived. His place had spam and easy cheese) and watch the first Alabama game of the season. I found this recipe off the Food Network years ago and thought it was a great way to open football season. And it was so good, we have it 3-4 times each fall and ALWAYS on opening day. It’s also really easy even though it looks like a lot of steps.
The meat sauce includes the beans, tomatoes and onions so those are 3 less things you have to prepare separately. I really like the cram-all-you-can-in-one-pot meals. This whole dish can be ready in 20 minutes if the beef is completely thawed and you’re handy with a knife. The first couple of times I made this, I spent more time on the cheese sauce.
This is a three step process: meat sauce, cheese sauce, toppings. For a vegetarian dish, omit the beef or use veggie crumbles.
- 1 lb ground round or lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup onions chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, chopped
- 1 can red beans (any bean will work), drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- seasonings: 2 Tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes OR an envelope of taco seasoning. I used a variety of tex-mex flavors.
- salt as needed
- 1/2 cup of water
1. Saute onions, garlic, jalapeño and beef until beef is completely done. Do not add seasonings until beef is completely done. The red seasonings can mask red/raw beef. While the beef is cooking, set out the butter, flour, milk, and cheese. Chop the toppings (scallions, cilantro) and set aside.
2. Add beans, tomatoes, seasonings, and water. Stir and let simmer on low while you do the cheese sauce. This is now done and you just want to keep it warm.
Basic white sauce turned nacho cheese sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
Add: pepper jack cheese, sliced or shredded, and white cheddar or sharp cheddar, jalapeño slices, if desired.
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk, stirring constantly as it thickens. Usually, it will thicken QUICKLY once it reaches a magic temperature of which I do not know. Add more milk depending on desired consistency.
2. Add cheese, turn heat to low. Stir until melted and well combined.
- black olives
- sour cream
Once you have a pan of meat sauce, pan of cheese, and board with toppings, you’re ready to assemble. Make sure everything else is ready because these need to be eaten as soon as served.
1. Layer chips on plate. I use white corn tortilla chips.
2. Add a layer of meat sauce
3. Drizzle with cheese sauce
4. Add toppings.
First game of the season is done! Alabama won! I hope this trend continues for next week: Penn State.