My personal culinary debt to Mexico is great: margaritas, Caesar salad, and nachos. If you just add chicken wings, marshmallow fluff, and brownies, I think that constitutes a completely balanced diet.
According to Kate Heykoe, author of Macho Nachos, these addictive treats are a fairly recent creation from our southern neighbor. In 1943, a Mexican chef invented the dish on the fly to please some visiting American wives. And supposedly he even used Wisconsin cheddar cheese!
Nachos can be a snack or meal. You’ve probably had plenty of bland plates of overworked chips and the fast food versions are rarely exciting. In contrast, Kate’s book is filled with interesting variations: some honest basics, versions that can be speedily created, and even breakfast and dessert varieties.
The nacho recipe below is mine, but I do want to credit Kate for its inspiration. And, to accompany the nacho, I’m adding Kate’s recipe for Avocado Creama, a beautifully cooling side to balance the heat of the nachos.
Heat. Yes, my nachos offer some heat. They won’t burn your mouth, but they are definitely warm. I suggest using two key ingredients. The first is chili, and there is no better chili to use than our recent blog, Texas-Style Chile [http://www.cookingbythebook.com//blog/recipes/texasstyle-chili-super-disk-super-bowl/]. This Tom Valenti recipe really elevates this dish from a “snack” to a full meal.
The second ingredient is the jalapenos to use. Nacho lovers can endlessly debate just what to do here. The great divide is over fresh jalapenos — that you simply slice and add — versus something in a jar. I am a jar man, but not just any jar. There is a product that will provide a striking new dimension to your Mexican and Southwestern dishes: candied jalapenos. I use the brand Los Tios from Houston, Texas. You may be able to find candied jalapenos in your local megamart and there are web-recipes to make them yourself. I’ll be checking out those recipes for you and will blog the results.
Here is my nacho recipe followed by Kate’s creama recipe. Whether you make these for snacks or a full meal, you are in for a treat.
Brian’s Super Chili Nachos
5 ounces corn tortilla chips
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese [or Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack]
¾ cup candied jalapenos, or more depending on your tolerance
1 large onion finely diced
2 cups chili [ideally Tom Valenti’s Texas-Style Chili]
Sour cream, avocado creama, diced tomatoes, or additional grated cheese as garnishes
Preheat the oven to 475°.
Spread the tortilla chips evenly over pan [half-sheet] lined with foil. Cover evenly with the grated cheese. Evenly sprinkle the jalapenos and diced onions.
Top with the chili. This is best done a spoonful at a time. Just try to cover in bite size globs. Spreading the chili evenly over the other ingredients is not easy, and not necessary.
Bake the nachos for about 7 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted. If the chili is leftovers and has been refrigerated, it may take about 10 minutes to fully heat the dish.
Remove from the oven and serve with the garnishes.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
Variations: add chili powder, garlic, chives, cilantro, or green chili
Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor for one or two minutes. Sample the taste and add additional seasoning — salt or white pepper — to suit your palette.
Source: Macho Nacho by Kate Heykoe