Everyone loves nachos
Published 3:48 am Saturday, February 4, 2017
Nachos are pretty much a favorite of everyone, whether served at a Super Bowl game or a post-skiing snack. I am a fan and do indulge in a nacho fix every now and then. There is a huge gap between mediocre nachos and great ones. The best nachos, however; have a perfect cheese-to-chip ratio so that every bite is a delicious balance of crisp crunch and pure ooey-gooey joy. The best nachos also have fresh garnishes to balance the richness of the cheese; and they keep the salsa on the side to prevent the chips from getting soggy. Here are some tips to make your nachos supreme.
The best nachos are made with homemade tortilla chips. Simply cut corn tortillas into wedge-shaped pieces, and then deep-fry them in vegetable oil heat to 350°F until lightly colored, about a minute or so. Turn them occasionally as they cook, then transfer the chips to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season lightly with kosher or sea salt.
If you do not make your own chips, buy ones that are sturdy but not too salty. For supermarket brands, Santita is recommended. I bought these and they were very good and not so salty.
Stick to a single layer of chips on a heatproof platter or baking sheet with no overlap. Sprinkle a little less than half of your cheese over the chips. Cover any gaps in the chip layer with more cheese. Top with meat or beans, if using, and then the rest of the cheese.
An easy cheese-to-chip ratio is to have twice as much cheese by weight as chips. That means for a large sheet pan (or similar-size platter), figure on 8 oz. (about 12 cups) of chips to 16 oz. of cheese. If adding meat or beans, use 2 to 2 ½ cups total for a large sheet pan; scale down is making less.
As far as cheese goes, try mixing coarsely grated Cheddar for flavor and Monterey Jack for meltability. One could even add some American, Muenster, or mozzarella to the mix.
Bake in a hot, but not too hot. Too hot and the cheese will separate into an oily mess. A moderate oven (350°F) for about 8 minutes melts the cheese nicely.
Finish with fresh garnishes such as sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes which add color and maybe some pickled jalapeños to add a bit of heat.
On the side you can have some sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. Do not plop them on the top of the nachos.
Keep the nachos on the hot platter of the baking sheet to retain the heat but they will probably be gobbled up before they cook.
Here is a recipe to quickly add the Tex-Mex flavor to the nachos.
From ‘Fine Cooking Magazine’ January/ February 2017.
Makes 2 ½ cups
2 tsp. vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. chopped jalapeño
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 Tbs. chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 ½ cooked shredded chicken or cooked ground beef
2 cups drained canned beans
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup water or beer
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, chopped jalapeño, and the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender but not browned. Add the chili powder, cumin, and kosher salt. Cook briefly, stirring to combine. Add the chicken or beef and the canned beans and cook until heated through. Stir in the cilantro and add water or beer if pan is dry.