Reviving the Best Nachos Ever
written by Tamara Styer
Last night I made the most epic nachos (a recipe I'll definitely post again later). I had been listening to the Bon Appétit Foodcast all day, and during their conversation about Super Bowl snacks, they described how to make the best nachos ever. Layered on a sheet pan, they are sure to leave no chip behind, smothering each crunchy bite with cheesy, melty goodness.
It starts with a layer of chips, preferably something sturdy like Tostitos Originals, then spread on your warm toppings of choice – seasoned ground beef, steak, or chicken, sautéed purple onions, refried beans – and then top with cheese. I chose a triple whammy of drizzled queso, shredded cheddar, and Sargento Mexican cheese blend. Then you build the nachos like a lasagna: another layer of chips followed by the meat, beans and other warm ingredients, and top it all with that lovely trio of cheeses. You can keep building upward, or you can call it good here and pop it into the oven.
Hit it with the broiler until it’s melted if you want, or bake it at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes and then blast it with the broiler at the end until the cheese is bubbly and irresistible.
Now is the time for your cool toppings. Green onions, fresh jalapeños, cilantro, pico de gallo, salsa verde (my new obsession – it goes on everything), and sour cream or, even better, Greek yogurt. Trust me, it’s better than sour cream, and better for you. Got enough piled on your nachos yet? Good! Now, dive in. I served this straight off the sheet pan, and we went to town! My boyfriend and I both agreed that they were the best nachos either of us had ever eaten. But by the time we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves full, we had barely made a dent. Perhaps I should have kept it to just one layer… But that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun!
So now my task was to revive these babies to their crunchy, creamy, cheesy goodness that kept us stuffing our faces last night.
To Google I went, as I do with most things: “how to save day old nachos.” And I found some good ideas, such as adding some broth and making a soup. I thought this could work. After all, if pizza soup is a thing, then most likely leftover nachos would make a bomb soup. I also found a suggestion to make breakfast out of it. Throw it all in a skillet, add some water to soften the crispier bits, and then crack some eggs on top. That sounds awesome too, but how do I make them nachos again? So to the kitchen I went, sans Google (as I always end up doing anyways), to experiment with leftovers and a big cast iron skillet.
I called upon the same man who described pizza soup on Food 52’s podcast, Burnt Toast – Peter Miller, Author of Lunch at the Shop – who also describes how to pan-fry leftover pizza in a cast iron skillet to get it crispy on the bottom. Then you pop it in the oven to re-melt the cheese on top. I gave this a try with my nachos, hoping for some kind of tostada to develop.
So I drizzled some olive oil into the pan and turned it to medium-high heat, and slid a large portion of the nachos into the skillet using a big spatula. I imagined that it would brown on the bottom and make a crust. It should end up like a nacho pizza, right? I let it sizzle and brown in the pan for about 7 minutes, checking the bottom every once in a while, and then moved the whole thing into the oven pre-heated to 425 degrees. I wasn’t exactly sure what the end result would be, but the kitchen sure was smelling good, so I must have been doing something right. I set the timer on the oven to 10 minutes, and figured I would just see what happened. There was plenty left over for round two if this didn’t work.
It came out of the oven sizzling and melty like a Mexican pizza! Which is what I was going for. I cut it into pieces with a pizza cutter and put it over some fresh chips on an oven-proof plate. Then I slapped a little more queso and shredded cheese on top and popped it into the oven again until the cheese was bubbly. From there, the standard nacho garnishes applied: A sprinkling of chopped green onions and fresh cilantro, a few spoonfuls of salsa verde and pico de gallo, a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
It turned out to be delicious, and the crunchy, burnt bits made it even better than before. The fresh chips worked great for scooping up the good stuff, but this version of leftover nachos definitely lends itself to using a fork. And there’s still no way I can finish my plate. Looks like next time I’ll try the whole nacho soup thing.
Written by Tamara Styer, Editor-In-Chief of Branson Foodie Magazine and Deitra Magazine.
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