Fried Saltines With Cheddar and Onion
McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City is a perpetually crowded bar with sawdust-covered floors that has been in continuous operation since the 1800s. Besides its ale — dark and light — the bar sells a modest, quirky, perfectly unpretentious cheese plate: Cheddar, raw white onions and saltine crackers with a side of spicy brown mustard. Here, with the minor update of frying the crackers, is a major improvement to an old offering. The plain dry crackers become nutty and extra crisp and salty, warm and rich. It’s like the difference between raw cookie dough and a baked dark-edged batch fresh from the oven. With a sharp tang from Cheddar, the bite of raw onion and that final hit of vinegary mustard heat, this stacked fried saltine makes a lively bite with drinks in any era.
- Serves: 37 persons
- 1pound Cheddar
- 1small white onion
- 4cups/32 ounces canola oil
- 1sleeve saltine crackers
- Yellow or brown mustard, for serving
Step 1Slice the Cheddar in neat tablets slightly smaller than the saltines. Slice the onion into thin crescent moons (not half-moons), cutting from root to shoot ends so the ribs fall apart more easily, are shorter and, therefore, more manageable to chew and swallow.
Step 2Heat the oil in a deep-sided sauté pan over medium-high to 350 degrees. Stick a wooden chopstick in the oil to see if it sizzles. If it does, it’s ready. Fry the saltines in 3 quick batches, adjusting the heat as needed, using a spider or a slotted spoon to swirl them around a little and to make sure they cook evenly to golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Drain on a wire rack until cool. They keep for a week in an airtight container.
Step 3Set the crackers, cheese and onion on a platter to serve with mustard in a ramekin.