Here are two facts: Nachos are delicious, and nachos are easy as all hell to make. This post contains instructions for making nachos the way I typically do. It’s not so much a recipe as such – recipes tend to have things like ‘exact amounts of ingredients’ and ‘specific directions’ and a whole bunch of other nonsense that doesn’t even make sense in the loose context of nacho construction. Seeing as nachos are a dish that was literally invented by throwing together whatever ingredients were lying around, it doesn’t make much sense to me to insist on a single vision for what nachos should be. Consider what follows less as a set of directives and more as a framing device, a way to think about making your own nachos, should you desire.
One last thing before we get started here: your nachos will only be as good as the cheese you use to make them. This is something of a corollary to the ‘no rules’ principle delineated above. Since it doesn’t matter what’s on your nachos (other than chips and cheese), the quality of cheese you’re putting on them takes on extra importance. I don’t mean to be a snob – pretty much any damn cheese you desire will make for a perfectly tasty plate of nachos, but please, just promise me you won’t get that pre-shredded ‘Mexican’ cheese that’s just Colby with some chili powder dumped into the bag. You can do better.
You will need:
-A bag of corn chips
-At least 1 lb. of cheese (Chihuahua cheese is best if you can get it, but Monterrey Jack, marble Jack, pepper Jack, etc. are perfectly fine. Also, pre-shredded is fine too, as long as it’s not the really shitty pre-shredded stuff)
-1 tube of uncooked chorizo
-1 can of black beans
-Chopped or diced onion (any kind, raw or sauteed, doesn’t matter. That said, actual caramelized onions on nachos would be kind of weird, but you do you)
-Chopped or diced bell pepper (again, can be any color, raw or sauteed)
-At least one (and preferably at least two) of the following: pico de gallo, salsa verde, sour cream, and guacamole
First, shred your cheese if it isn’t shredded already. Next, chop or dice your peppers and onions, according to your preference. Once that’s done, cook up the chorizo in a skillet. The hardest part of this is getting the chorizo out of the tube with minimal product loss. I recommend grabbing a scissors, cutting the tube open at one end, and squeezing it directly into the skillet. Cook on medium heat, breaking up the chorizo with a spatula as you go until it has shrunken down considerably, has deepened in color, doesn’t provide any resistance when you break it up, and is swimming in a pool of its own rendered grease. Remove from heat, then open and drain the beans.
Layer your chips on a standard cookie sheet. Try to get all the chips in a single layer, but if there’s a few chips here in there that are under other chips don’t worry about it too much. In my travels, I’ve met a lot of people who are fussy about making sure no chip is without toppings, and that’s understandable, but for me, part of the beauty of nachos is their inherent entropy. Besides, if there’s a bare chip here and there, that’s part of what the salsa and guac are there for. Next, scatter your beans over the chips with a spoon. Try to get as even a distribution of beans as you can, although know going in that they’ll probably clump together to some extent. This, too, is perfectly ok.
Next, spoon dollops of chorizo on top of the beans. Since chorizo is pretty much all grease, it will definitely clump up, so instead of trying to spread it out over everything evenly, just try to make sure your clumps are well distributed. Next, scatter your peppers and onions on top, and then, at long last, it’s time for the cheese. Sprinkle your cheese all over everything in an immodest pile. You want to mostly cover the toppings themselves so that when you look at the nachos, it’s mostly cheese with other stuff poking through.
Also, try to make sure your cheese is close to/at room temperature by this point. This is more important if you bought a bag of shredded cheese, since it’s easy to let that sit in the fridge until it’s srpinkling time. If the cheese is too cold, when it cooks it might turn into it’s own distinct layer that separates from all the other toppings. The goal is a layer of cheese that is melted on top of everything else, not melted and also on top of everything else, you feel me? Again, if this happens the final product will still be tasty, but it’s not ideal.
Time to cook nachos! If your oven has a broiler, turn that shit on high and move your top rack so it’s right under the broiler. Once the broiler is ready, slide your sheet in directly under it and broil for about five minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to turn golden brown. If you don’t have a broiler, first get a time machine, then travel back in time approximately 15 minutes so you can preheat your oven to 325-350 degrees. Bake your nachos until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, which will aslo be about 10-15 minutes. For both methods, the cook time is a rough estimate. It’s more important that you keep an eye on what the cheese is doing.
While your nachos are cooking, prepare your garnishes. Finely chop your scallions and cilantro, and also slice your limes into wedges. Also get out your salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, and stick some spoons in each container so people can dollop those on as they see fit. Once the nachos are done, let them rest for five minutes or so, then serve helpings onto plates with a spatula. Top with some scallions and cilantro, spoon salsa/guac/cream on to your liking, then squueze some lime juice over the whole thing.
And there you have it! Delcious, decandent, cheesy nachos that everyone will at least pretend to like so that your feelings don’t get hurt. If you come away from this article having learned only one thing, let it be this: these nachos are infinitely variable. Do you hate bell peppers? Leave ’em off. Are you a vegetarian? Don’t bother with chorizo then. All you need is chips and cheese and some other stuff, to be delpoyed in whatever comination you see fit. Now go forth, go forth and make nachos!