Loaded Sweet Potato Irish Nachos with Beer-Braised Short Ribs
It’s Valentine’s Day on Friday, and in honor of the romance-fest, I thought I’d tell you a love story. Even if you’re not into love and stuff, there will be Loaded Irish Nachos with Beer-Braised Short Ribs at the end, so bear with me.
Three years ago, my best friend Fifi came to visit me in Paris. Needless to say, I was very excited about her stay, since my Parisian social life wasn’t exactly bumping at that point. For two full weeks, we gallivanted around the city, eating, drinking and entertaining ourselves, as only we know how. I couldn’t have been happier.
On the last Saturday of Fifi’s stay, we woke up late with your typical earth-shattering hangover. As Fifi and I had been enjoying hangovers together for many years, we simply helped each other out of bed and stumbled to the nearest café for a croque madame. Halfway through our cheese-filled feast, Fifi dropped the bomb. Looking appropriately shamefaced, she told me that her friend Logan was in town for the weekend, and she had made plans to meet him for drinks that afternoon.
Since she knows that I hate nothing more than interacting with strangers while hungover, Fifi was extremely eager to convince me of Logan’s awesomeness. “He has to be in London for work next week, so he decided to come to Paris for the weekend by himself. So brave! Plus, he’s the nicest, funniest guy ever. You’re going to love him! And even if you don’t, we only have to spend like 45 minutes with him, I swear.” Because it’s impossible to say no to Fifi, and to be honest, I felt badly for this random dude that was in Paris all alone for the weekend, I agreed to the incredibly inconvenient rendez-vous.
At 5pm, Fifi and I made our miserable way to a cozy bar in Place des Vosges to meet this friend. He was late. I squirmed in my chair, reminding Fifi not to get too comfortable because we had to be at my roommate’s birthday dinner at 9pm, and it was going to take me several hours to get ready in my current state. When Logan finally arrived (he had apparently gotten lost), we ordered a couple rounds of beers and had some decent conversation. I thought he was great, but I was anxious to get out of there. My hair wasn’t going to do itself, and I needed to take a nap first.
After hugs and vague promises to hang out the next day, Fifi and I bid Logan adieu and scurried back to my apartment. Upon arrival, Bay (my roomie) asked Fifi where her friend was. When we explained that we had ditched him for her birthday celebration, she told Fifi to call him immediately and invite him to dinner because she had already included him in the reservation. (Bay is amazing and thoughtful like that.)
The evening didn’t exactly get off to an auspicious start, and I was an hour late to dinner. First, I couldn’t decide what to wear, and then no cabs would pick Fifi and me up, probably because the sequined body suit that I had chosen made me look like a “lady of the night.” (That’s a story for another day.) When we eventually made it to the restaurant, we found “Fifi’s friend” hanging out with my friends like he was a regular part of the group. I was impressed.
At dinner, Logan and I were seated at opposite ends of the table. What happened during that meal remains hotly debated, and to this day, Logan claims that I was “eye-fucking” him (sorry, that looks scarily harsh when typed) the entire time. I mean, that’s not outside the realm of possibility, but I distinctly remember him ogling me throughout the party. Regardless, there was some unexpected and mildly inappropriate magic happening between us across that table at Buddha Bar. Fact.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the post-dinner festivities led to one of the most amazing nights of my life. The group did some light bar hopping before heading back to my friend Liberty’s apartment, where we laughed, drank a disgusting amount of red wine, and danced to a Beyoncé-heavy playlist into the wee hours of the morning. At some point circa 4am, Logan kissed me. THE END.
As soon as the sun started to rise over the Seine, people began fading pretty quickly. Because Logan and I were clearly falling in love, I casually slurred stated that he should stay on my futon instead of walking all the way back to his hotel. He was all over that offer (duh), and we held hands on the walk home, as lovers do.
When we got home, Fifi crawled into my bed, and Logan and I slept together on the futon. Relax, gutter-heads. By “slept together,” I mean that I put on my full pajama set and promptly passed out next to him like the classy lady that I am. We woke up spooning, which was funny, but felt oddly natural. My 23-year-old single self was confused…
I don’t fully know how to explain to you what happened the next day, but it was weird and awesome. Logan left the futon to go back to his hotel and run some errands, but he returned a few hours later bearing flowers, which was both surprising and romantic. The three of us spent the afternoon walking around the city before having dinner at Relais de l’Entrecote, the most delicious destination for steak frites in Paris (and the world). When Fifi and I left Logan on Rue de Rivoli later that night, I felt oddly sad.
I feel obligated to admit that I thought about Logan a creepy amount that week. I lived in Paris, and he lived in New York, so we obviously weren’t going to date, but I couldn’t help myself. He was funny and charming, and he liked my pajama set, which was significantly more than I could say for any of the Parisian men I had met recently.
Luckily, Logan felt the same way, and he did something smart about it. He wrote Fifi an email saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Serena is the funniest, smartest, prettiest girl I have ever met. I’m obsessed with her, and I would like your advice.” He must have known that she would forward me that email (which may or may not have been his original plan), and God, that shit made me MELT.
By some twist of fate, I happened to be stopping in NYC the following weekend en route to the Bahamas with my mom and my brother (spring breakkkkk!), so Logan took me out on a date. The rest is history, folks. Skype was downloaded, L-bombs were dropped, and when I moved back from Paris in November, 2011, we became roommates. Boom.
The truth is, the last three years have been a whole lot of glorious. To get gross on you for a second, I would just like to say that Logan is pretty much the best roommate/bestie/muse that I could have asked for, and I am forever indebted to Fifi for forcing me to meet him on that fateful afternoon three years ago. I’m a lucky bitch.
Because Logan and I will be in Colorado this Valentine’s day, I wanted to do a little something special for him ahead of time. Some people use wine, chocolate and lingerie to say I love you/seduce their significant other, but I tend to go with meat, potatoes and a whole lot of melted cheese. So without further ado, I present this year’s Valentine to the dude: Loaded Sweet Potato Irish Nachos with Beer-Braised Short Ribs.
These are some epic ‘chos, people. The heavenly nature of baked sweet potato wedges piled high with ridiculously tender short ribs, jalapenos, melted cheese, guacamole and crunchy red onion and bell peppers is almost too much to bear. It is one absurdly delicious taste treat, and Logan’s reaction pretty much sums things up for me. It may be my greatest success yet.
For those of you who don’t like nachos, are single/hate Valentine’s Day, and threw up in your mouth reading this post, I’ve got chocolate coming your way on Thursday. Bases covered.
p.s. Logan, I hope you got me something as awesome as these nachos. Love you, mean it.
Loaded Sweet Potato Irish Nachos with Beer-Braised Short Ribs: (Serves 4)
For the short ribs:
2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
1½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoon Cholula or hot sauce of your choice
12 ounces beer of your choice (I used Coors Light because that’s what I had in my fridge, but anything on the lighter side will do. Do NOT use an IPA, or your sauce will be very bitter.)
1 cup tomato puree/sauce
For the sweet potatoes:
3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the nachos:
½ cup pickled jalapenos
1¼ cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
1 cup guacamole or diced avocado
1 small red bell pepper, diced
¼ large red onion, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Preparing your Loaded Sweet Potato Irish Nachos with Beer-Braised Short Ribs:
-Let’s start with the short ribs! Cut your ribs into 2½-inch chunks (I usually just cut each short rib in half) and pat them dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
-Add the onions and garlic to the Dutch oven/saucepan that you used to cook the short ribs and sauté, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 3 minutes until the onions become translucent. (There should be enough leftover oil/drippings in the pan to coat the onions and garlic, but if it’s too dry, add a ½ tablespoon of olive oil.)
-About an hour before the short ribs have finished cooking, get to work on the sweet potatoes. Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees. Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Set aside, while you prepare the potatoes. (NOTE: Depending on the size of your rack, you may need to use two, or cook the sweet potatoes in batches.)
-Scrub the sweet potatoes to get the skin very clean and pat them dry. Slice them in half lengthwise, and then again widthwise. Cut each fourth into 4-5 wedges about 1-inch thick.
-Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika and salt. Add the spice mixture to the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
-Transfer the sweet potatoes to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until tender and lightly browned. (If you don’t have a wire rack, don’t panic. You can cook the wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flip them halfway through the cooking time.)
-Now it’s time to assemble your nachos. You may use whatever vessel you like for your nachos. I used mini skillets because they’re cute and everyone loves a perfectly portioned meal, but you can use a large skillet or a large baking dish. Start by arranging the sweet potatoes in your vessel of choice.
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