Originally, Ignacio called them “Nacho’s especiale”
The nacho as we know it from movie theatres, ball parks, and convenience stores comes from 1976 when a man named Frank Liberto brought his version to the Texas Rangers stadium in Arlington Texas.
He made a pumpable sauce that made the snack take only seconds to prepare. It was a hit! Frank started a company called Ricos. Ricos sold nacho cheese sauce in a condensed form that increased concessionaires’ profits considerably and nachos took over the convenience food world.
Since the beginning, people have been putting all kinds of toppings on nachos. From the basic cheese and jalapeno, to barbeque pork or kalua pork and pineapple, different chefs and different regions have very different takes on the tasty treat.
Every kind of meat that can be eaten with a tortilla “fork” has been offered, as well as every kind of topping, but you should always start out with quality ingredients. Otherwise you could just go to 7/11 and get stale chips and scary “cheese product”
Let’s start with the foundation of your nachos, the chips. If you have your own deep fryer you can select a good quality tortilla, cut it into triangles and fry your own. I prefer the fresh flavor of frying my own chips.
You can’t beat warm chips, lightly salted, dipped in fresh salsa or pico de gallo. But, if you don’t have a fryer, selecting the right chip makes a big difference in the quality of your nachos.
Where I live we have a few really good Latin grocery stores. That’s where the best pre-made chips will be found. Otherwise, I go to the “Ethnic” section of the supermarket.
Next, we need to pick a good quality cheese. For this article we will not be using cheese sauce. If you want to use cheese sauce, check out the article on nacho cheese sauce.
The original cheese Nacho Anaya used was Wisconsin Cheddar. I love Cheddar, but with so many great cheeses out there, why limit ourselves? I like to use cotija and cheddar mixed. Cotija has a very good flavor, sort of like a parmesan, and a decent melt.
Cheddar adds the sharp zing, and melts incredibly. I also like to use enchilado and Mexican manchega (not to be confused with Spanish manchega which is more like a pecorino), but these can be harder to find.
Let’s talk toppings. I like to load my nachos up. Black beans, ground beef, diced avocado, diced tomato, fresh sliced peppers, I can go on forever. I usually get complaints that there aren’t enough chips for the toppings, but that’s what forks are for.
If you are going to use ground beef, one thing I urge you to try is to forget the taco seasoning. I like to brown my beef, drain off excess grease, and add homemade pico de gallo. Salsa works just as well, but by using pico de gallo you get the advantage of bringing out the flavor of the pico and beef and enhancing the over all flavor.
Cooking the fresh veggies with the beef really creates a lot of flavor. Besides, taco seasoning is usually a lot of dehydrated stuff and food coloring, and why use nasty ingredients when the real deal is better and just as easy. Here is a basic recipe for loaded nachos.
|Sean’s Loaded Nachos|
|1 pound lean ground beef|
1 can black beans or 1 cup cooked black beans
3 cups tortilla chips
2 avocados, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 jalapenos, sliced
½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup cotija cheese, shredded
1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
We want the cheese to just barely melt with out browning the chips or toppings. If you are using freshly fried chips they will brown quickly.
- When the cheese is melted, pull the pan out of the oven and use a metal spatula to put nachos on plates. Each sheet pan full of nachos will feed 2-4 people, depending on how hungry people are.