Scratching the Surface…

On the surface nacho recipes are a touch absurd. The basics of the dish are so, well, basic. There is an essential nacho-ness (sorry, Gritz loves You, Me and Dupree) that must be achieved through the combination of chips and cheese. And yet, while the nessesary ingredients are clear, the possibilities are endless.

Through our global travels we have encountered a wide array of nachos. Some have been revolting (thanks Harrods), others surprising (thanks Cambodia) and some absolutely remarkable (thanks Corky’s BBQ). In each case we have learned a new lesson, and new potentials of flavor arrangement.

Recently, Gritz asked me to work on a series of recipes for gradspot that would explore the potential and range of nachos. I took inspiration from some of our finer experiences and also chose to play on memories associated with nachos. For the latter reason, one recipe pokes fun at the English, and their ineptitude, while another pays homage to the stadium nacho. Covered in that bright, zesty cheese sauce, the stadium variety is the most ubiquitous of all nachos. Often the point of entry (its almost a gateway drug) the stadium nacho either sparks a new passion or disappoints.

In some cases, the initial meeting of cheese sauce and stale chips unfairly casts a stigma on cheese sauce nachos. On the contrary, a sauce can infuse so much dimesnion and flavor, not to mention allow for maximum chip coverage. A recent trip to Memphis reintroduced me to cheese sauces, a spicy version adding amazing dimension to the pulled pork nachos that are the cities speiciality. In an effort to capture that excitment in an easy at home fashion I incorporated a cheaters method with the cheese sauce I developed for our NCAA tournament special.

Nachos can become as fancy as one desires, and still a plate of perfect bubbling cheese and slight browning to the corners of the chips is hard to beat. Two of these recipes are classic. Beans and chorizo, always a great combo, and my memories from the Great Dane Pub in Madison, WI. These are good without accompaniment, and great with that perfect trio of cool topics — salsa, sour cream and guac.

As a whole, this collection of recipes only scratches the surface of the types and the ideas that NACHOS really embody. They are not very good recipes. Just a starting point in our home experiments.

Nachos with Chorizo

Stadium Style Nachos

BBQ Chicken Nachos
Pub Nachos

Intern Nachos

During the Fall of 2006, I had an internship at National Public Radio. I worked on Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon, and I was basically known among the staff for three things: having mad pairs of sneakers, drinking loads of coffee, and loving nachos. On the last day of my internship, the team surprised me with a sumptuous spread of chips, cheese, black beans, grilled chicken, and the usual accoutrement. They then presented me with a baking tray and some oven gloves and said, “Go to work.” Here are the results, as well as archival evidence of a very bad haircut I once had.

Note: As I write this, I am wearing the same “Rosswell Rayguns” hooded sweatshirt. I don’t believe it has been washed in the meantime.