Nachos, Nachos, Nachos! Christian's First Guest Post
Hello all! Here is to my first guest post. Cheers! (It’s a long weekend, after all.)
Becca has mentioned me in the past but, for the sake of introductions, (at least for the topic of this post) the key things you should know about me are:
I'm Venezuelan, left when I was 23.
I lived in Texas for almost 3 years, Go Bobcats! (? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
I really like cooking, and I really really like meat.
Given my background, you would think that I’m some Mexican food aficionado with a wide and deep knowledge of its intricacies. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I love me some tacos and burritos, but my childhood was absent of all that goodness. Instead, my Mexican cooking style grew after I moved to the States.
And it was in the States, when I was 13/14 years old, where I had my first experience with Mexican food. It was at the all-mighty Taco Bell; in Miami, near the airport, and in the middle of the night to boot! It was my first “American” restaurant after landing in the US of A for the first time. My mom hates fast food but, with a mob of hangry kids in the backseat, she had no other option than to partake in the stereotypical American pastime: drive-through food. Taco Bell was the only thing open at that howling hour.
For me, it was immediate love. “So... You are telling me that people here have sandwiches on tube and U shapes, that they can be crunchy, soft or in between? That I have 50+ options? AND that I do not have to get out of THE CAR!!? Paradise”.
I feel it's important to highlight that Venezuelan cooking is absent of spicy flavors. My family, with its Portuguese background, actively runs away from anything spicier than a dash of black pepper. That all said, Texas, Seattle with its Asian cooking influence, and later, in a much larger degree, Becca with her vegetarian diet, has show me the way of the spice. I’m no Sean Evans but I can hold my ground now.
This is all to say that I won’t give you a traditional Mexican recipe. What you see below is a mix of European/Latin/Tex-Mex/Vegetarian/"Something along the way” styles that both Becca and I bring to the table.
Anyway, this is getting too long. The whole point of the post is to share our recipe for NACHOS. No more long drawn out story of my life, it's not like there is drama on it.
So here it is:
PS: Quantities are unspecified for a reason, ratios depend on what you like. We believe that nachos should change according to your mood, so this is a “Choose your own Adventure" without the childhood PTSD.
Vegetarian-Friendly South American Nachos
Cast Iron Pan x N (N = number of people).
Some people use a large tray covered in aluminum foil. We have found that those get cold pretty fast which makes the cheese hard and ruins the whole experience. We opt for a small Cast Iron for each person/serving (no sharing on this one).
Two or three types of chips. Our favorites; Black Bean Beanitos, Juanitas, and Nacho Beanfields.
Any good chip should do the job, just make sure they do not crumble under weight.
The first 3 are an even mix of shredded Sharp Cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack (Just buy the regular Mexican Cheese Blend). The last one, the piece of resistance, is the finisher, grated Cotija Cheese or similar soft, salty and fresh cheese.
Red and Green Peppers, diced.
Black Beans, already cooked and dry.
(We do not do refried but, again, it this is your thing, do it.)
Green Onions, diced.
Field Roast has been our house way to go. Even being the vegetarian option, I really like the flavor and would have it gladly. We use a 1/3 Italian and 2/3 Mexican mix cut in pieces smaller than a penny. If you prefer meat I recommend Pull Pork, Pernil style (here is a good recipe).
Fresh Cilantro leaves, chopped.
Radishes, thinly sliced.
Keep those tomatoes, olives, and corn in your pantry! ;) I have found that moisture should come from the cheese (and the Pork if you have it). Anything else makes the nachos soggy.
Guacamole (or better yet, plain Avocados sliced)
Salsa, and/or Sour Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Spread a thin layer of oil or butter on cast irons.
Layer of chips
Layer of Mexican Cheese Mix.
Sprinkle some black beans, red and green peppers, green onions, jalapeños, onions.
Sprinkle a small dash of black pepper, and garlic powder.
Sprinkle protein (Field Roast, pork etc).
Repeat from Step 2 until cast iron pan is full.
Another hearty layer of Mexican Cheese Mix (cover it).
Drop in the oven for 15 minutes (or until cheese in the center is melting).
Top with a layer of grated Cotija cheese.
Add a fresh layer of green onions.
(optional) Top off with some sliced avocados, radishes, and cilantro.
I keep the sauces on the side, in separate containers. They are usually cold, and we want to keep that cheese warm as much as possible.