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When I worked at Green Flash Brewing in San Diego, I oversaw local accounts orders and deliveries. As a result, I would often stop by the bars and restaurants I worked with to scope out the venue and meet the beer buyers. One of my favorite spots to frequent was the one and only Hamilton’s Tavern, a dive bar in South Park with an incredibly well curated beer selection. San Diego must agree because it was recently voted Best Beer Bar in the West Coaster. But that’s not why I love it. I love it because it’s dark, so it’s easy to lose track of the time while day drinking. The crowd is diverse and never boring. It’s unpretentious. The bartenders don’t care if you order Guinness or Pliny the Elder. There’s a shuffleboard table. It’s dog friendly. And, perhaps most importantly, the food is the best damn pub grub around. I can’t get enough of the vegan chili smothered tater tots. And the fast nachos pair perfectly with the nth round of beer. You won’t want to share.
The recipe that follows is my take on Hamilton’s fast nachos: pub fries covered in a blanket of creamy beer cheese sauce, tangy sour cream, spicy peppers, crispy bacon, and fresh green onions. It’s easy to make and is best when accompanied by multiple rounds of craft beer, particuarly hoppy pale ales.
6 slices thick-cut bacon
2 pounds russet potatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
Spicy Beer Cheese
1 Tablespoon oil or butter
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 serrano pepper, finely diced
6 ounces beer, such as a brown ale or trippel
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
8 ounces sharp cheddar and/or monterey jack cheese, grated
Green onion, finely sliced
Pickled jalapeno, optional
Preheat oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Slice bacon into 1/2-inch strips; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and reserve rendered bacon fat.
Wash and dry potatoes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then cut each half into wedges of equal size. Toss potato wedges in a large bowl with rendered bacon fat, oil, garlic, and salt. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes; remove baking sheet from oven and flip potatoes to roast evenly on the opposite side. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue roasting until potatoes are soft on the interior and browned on the exterior, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are roasting, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add jalapeno and serrano peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in beer and bring to a simmer. Add cream cheese and whisk until fully melted. Add grated cheese, a small handful at a time, and continue whisking until smooth.
To serve, arrange pub fries on a large serving dish. Drizzle with a generous amount of beer cheese then top with dollops of sour cream. Garnish with bacon pieces and green onion.