The Effort Required to Get to Monday Evening

We were out of town over the weekend, visiting friends in Vermont, and while it is always delightful to visit these friends, inevitably it is always a pleasure to come home. The three of us love hanging out in their kitchen and tramping through the woods surrounding their house (well, my husband and child enjoy that last part; my grouchy presence there is merely tolerated). It’s like the bit in one of the Madeline books, I think it’s Madeline and the Gypsies: The best part of a voyage, by ship or train, is when the trip is over, and you are home again.

One challenge, however, is getting everything taken care of The Day After. We came home late Sunday night, exhausted, and I knew Monday would be a bear. It was. I faced many loads of laundry (see: tramping through woods, summer use of towels). And it also came to my attention that I had to run the full dishwasher that had been sitting for three days, a neatly stacked cabinet of festering filth. I never once considered that I might not have something I could make for dinner on hand, because I am someone who Has Faith in the Pantry, but come afternoon, I had to think hard about it. What was I going to make for dinner?

I picked my child up at camp and as we walked home, she asked, as she always does, “What’s for dinner?” and I said, “I’m not really sure. I just know it’ll involve leftover steak.”

This led me to think even harder about what was waiting for us at home. There was a tomato; a few tablespoons of chimichurri sauce; sour cream; the steak.

“Nachos,” I said. “We’re having nachos.”

“Mmmmmmmnachos,” my daughter said enthusiastically.

In the end, these were nachos that deserve honor in the Nacho Pantheon. These were heroic nachos; they were so good, they did not require sour cream or salsa.

I had about seven ounces of broiled sirloin I could use up, but I opted to use only a third of it. I minced it finely and threw it into a mixing bowl. To this I added:

an ear of corn, kernels shaved off the cob; about 1/2 cup of minced black olives; two scallions, thinly sliced; one finely diced tomato and its juices; three tablespoons of chimichurri sauce. I mixed this all together with a fork and let it sit for a few minutes while I got the rest of my act together. This involved taking a bag of tortilla chips down from the cabinet above the fridge and pulling a brick of cheddar from the cheese drawer in the fridge. I got a baking sheet out and covered it with a layer of chips. Then I tossed forkfuls of the meat-and-veggie mixture here and there over the chips. I grated cheese all over that, and repeated the process until I had used up all the m-&-Vs and all the cheese.  I dotted some pickled jalapeños over the top — so that they’d be easy for my daughter to remove them from her serving — and I put it into a 400° oven and let it bake for about ten minutes.
Usually when I make nachos, there are some leftovers. Not a lot, but enough for me to heat up and eat as a mid-day snack the next day. In this case, there were no leftovers. At all. These nachos were so ridiculously good, unembellished by salsa or sour cream, it was just shocking. With sour cream and salsa, they were criminal.
The tragedy, of course, is that there’s almost no way I will be able to pull this off again. But we will always have the memory of those perfect nachos.
I imagine some readers are wondering why I didn’t make them again with the rest of the leftover sirloin steak. AH: therein lies a tale.

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