Nacho Man shares recipes to get the best nachos

Torri Donley

Nachos are a go-to indulgence food, but there are some simple tips to take you to next-level snacking. Dan Lindberg I love nachos. Wait, that’s an understatement. I looooove nachos! That’s better. In fact, my nickname is “Nacho Man” because a night on the town included stops for nachos at […]

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Nachos are a go-to indulgence food, but there are some simple tips to take you to next-level snacking.

I love nachos.

Wait, that’s an understatement.

I looooove nachos!

That’s better. In fact, my nickname is “Nacho Man” because a night on the town included stops for nachos at three different restaurants.

Nachos are one of my go-to indulgences, and throughout my years of cooking in restaurants, I have picked up a few tips that have significantly raised my nacho game and can help yours. Not only will these tips help you make better nachos, but they will make them easier to make and share with others.

I make nachos a few different ways depending on what I’m in the mood for, and also who I am begrudgingly sharing them with. But my staples are as follows:

Homemade queso sauce

Quick pickled jalapenos

Fresh tortilla chips

I’ll often add smoked pork shoulder or pulled chicken, but nachos can be made without meat and still be delicious. And I like to garnish with fresh cilantro and a little sprinkle of cotija cheese.

The most important tip is the homemade queso sauce. Even if you skip the rest of the tips, this is the game-changer. Not only is it absolutely delicious, it also eliminates the goopy mess you get from melting shredded cheese, and makes it easier to make individual plates of nachos so you don’t have to share off one plate. (Seems the world is going in this way, boo!) Or maybe you’re like Joey from the TV show “Friends” and you don’t share food.

Next tip, make your own pickled jalapenos. The ones from cans and jars are gross. Don’t believe me? Make these once and you will. When you make your own quick pickles, you get to decide how sweet vs. sour vs. salty they are, and that lets you adjust your seasoning. Besides, these hold well in the fridge and can go on almost anything you make, so go for it!

Last big tip: Fry your own tortillas right before building your plate of nachos. This seems like more work than you might want to do for nachos, but it really makes for a much tastier plate of food. You can make your own tortillas with masa and water, or buy fresh tortillas from the grocery store, cut them and fry them at 350 degrees in your preferred frying oil and season with kosher salt. I do this specifically because they taste better than bagged chips, but also because like the jalapenos, I can control the seasoning of the chips. The added bonus is they are hot from frying and you don’t need to warm your chips before building your nachos.

Hopefully these tips inspire you to make some nachos and impress your family and friends.

Pro tip: When building your plate of nachos, create layers of chips, queso and pickles. It’s so much better than just a pile of stuff on top of the tortilla chips.

Extra pro tip: Make some crema to add to or dip your nachos into.

Spicy queso sauce

Yields: 1 quart (Serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup whole milk

½ cup beer (light in color and not too hoppy)

225 grams American cheese, ½-inch dice

2 tablespoons. Sambal Oelek (chili garlic sauce)

20 grams butter

20 grams AP flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium high heat add the beer and reduce by half volume. (Drink remaining beer. Waste not, want not.)

In a 1-quart sauce pan, melt butter then add flour. Cook for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

Add heavy cream, milk, garlic powder, onion powder and ground black pepper to the reduced beer and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the cooked butter/flour mixture to the cream and whisk until slightly thickened.

Add the chopped American cheese a little at a time until it is all melted. Whisk continuously.

Add the Sambal Oelek and season with kosher salt as needed. Whisk until combined.

Serve.

Pickled Jalapenos

Yields: 1 pint

Ingredients:

(You can adjust the proportions of the pickle liquid to your preference.)

6 to 8 jalapenos

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

In a 1-quart saucepan over high heat, bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil.

Thinly slice (slightly less than an ⅛ of an inch) the jalapenos.

Place jalapenos in a quart jar or heat-safe container.

Pour the boiling liquid over the jalapenos. Make sure they are fully covered.

Let cool to room temperature and use now, or store in the fridge for up to a month.

Crema

Yield: Just under 2 cups

1½ cups sour cream

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon water

¼ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Kosher salt to taste

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together. Serve.

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