Loaded Nachos, Harboring a Hankering

Nachos are a quintessential party food for Superbowl Sunday—although one could probably give equal billing to hot wings and chili—but, to stay on point… Of course, this unofficial American holiday only happens once annually, but this party favorite can be served anytime of year for any number of reasons, or just because you are harboring a hankering! How about during this Sunday’s football game?

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Layering is the key to loaded nacho perfection. Although I must confess I couldn’t get on board with cooking the lettuce and avocado in the layers. So these ingredients went on top AFTER the nachos were cooked. (Many of the reviewers agreed with my stance on this issue.) And the tomatoes, which were supposed to be only a topping, were assimilated into all layers. The directions below are as written in the NYTimes, but it’s up to you how to assemble the goodies.

It seemed strange to add sliced radishes, but Russ assured me that they are traditional in Mexican cooking. Since bacon doesn’t sit well with me, we eliminated it (heresy to some!) and sautéed the onion in olive oil instead. And we like the color and taste of black olives, so slices of those were incorporated into the layers. Finally, our pantry produced dried ancho chiles—but no powder—so we ground up two anchos in a mini-blender to make the powder.

Nothing less than loaded nachos will do — the cheese and chips accompanied by a fragrant meat sauce, the fire of jalapeños, the chill and silkiness of sour cream, the tart excellence of a good tomato, decent shredded lettuce, thin-sliced radishes. Here is avocado; there, the awesome funk of chopped cilantro…
~Sam Sifton, NYTimes food author

Did we like them? Mucho grande! But despite a valiant attempt we could not finish them, even though it was our main meal of the day.

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Prepping the ingredients.

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Starting to brown the meat and onions.

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Combining all of the spices to add to the cooked meat.

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The meat mixture getting happy mixing with the spice combination.

Loaded Nachos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ pound slab or thick-cut bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, like chuck or sirloin
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, hot or mild
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ to ⅔ cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium, or water
  • 1 12- to-16-ounce bag corn tortilla chips
  • ½ head iceberg or romaine lettuce, shredded
  • ½ cup pickled jalapeños
  • 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 3 radishes, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 limes, cut into eighths, for garnish
  • Hot sauce, if desired

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Assembling layer one on a rimmed baking sheet.

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All three layers are now complete.

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The nachos fresh out of the oven before the toppings are added.

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Toppings included fresh avocado, shredded lettuce, cilantro, dollops of sour cream, and thinly sliced radishes.

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a large sauté pan with high sides over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the pieces are crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes, then remove the bacon and set aside.
  2. Add the onions to the bacon fat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and started to go brown around the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and garlic and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chile powder, cumin, salt, paprika, black pepper, sugar, cornstarch and red pepper flakes and stir to combine and toast the spices. Add enough chicken stock or water to loosen the mixture, and allow it to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. (Add a little more stock or water if mixture is too thick.)
  4. Assemble the nachos on a half sheet pan: Put a layer of tortilla chips on the pan and cover with about 1/3 of the meat sauce, then add 1/3 of the jalapeños, about 1/3 of the lettuce, some avocado slices (or add these last two ingredients after cooking) and a handful of the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses.
  5. Top with more tortilla chips, more meat sauce, more lettuce, jalapeños, avocado and cheese, then make a final layer of chips, meat, bacon, jalapeños, avocado and cheese. Top with crumbled Cotija cheese and slide the sheet pan into the oven to bake until the cheeses have melted through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Top cooked nachos with the sliced radishes and tomatoes, and dot the tray with teaspoons of sour cream. Scatter the cilantro over the top and serve, accompanied by limes and hot sauce.

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Something tells me we won’t be waiting around for the next Superbowl before we make these bad boys again!
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