Some may think of nachos as junkfood, but they really are not. If you make them with organic corn chips (organic to avoid GMOs), grass-fed beef, raw milk cheeses and fresh toppings, you can have a nourishing meal that will delight everyone at the table!
I’ve developed what I think is the Ultimate Nachos Meal. This isn’t necessarily the fastest meal to pull together, but the wait is well worth it! (And if you make the meat sauce in advance, it really doesn’t take long at all to assemble.)
The meat sauce is a crucial component to the Ultimate Nachos. I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen — it’s actually a beef tacos recipe, but we always have leftovers when I make tacos, and that means… an Ultimate Nacho Night is in our future!
To make this meat sauce, you start by sautéing onions and garlic and then adding the seasonings (no MSG packets here!!)
THEN you add the meat.
While the meat is marinating and getting happy, you’ll want to shred some cheese. Please, for the love, people! Stop buying shredded cheese. Not only is it full of nasty preservatives to keep it separated, it has no taste. Have you compared it to the real deal lately? You don’t need a fancy food processor. A minion (or small child) and a Box Grater will do the trick.
You can also use this time to prepare your other toppings. Drain a can of black beans, chop some tomatoes and cilantro.
I like roma tomatoes in the wintertime. I think they have the most flavor when tomatoes are out of season. In the summertime, I use whatever is fresh from the garden or farmer’s market. Make sure to squeeze out the seeds and any excess juices that will make your chips soggy.
When the meat sauce is ready, you can start assembling the nachos. For this, you want a large pan — NOT a plate. If you pile everything in a heap on a plate, then there are all sorts of chips on the bottom that don’t get coated in the nacho goodness. And THAT is a crime, people!
So spread your chips out in an even layer on a pan. (Sometimes I make individual plates for each person — that works too.)
These are Trader Joe’s organic corn chips. The only way to be sure you aren’t eating genetically modified corn is to buy organic — sad, but true. If Prop 37 passes, then we will eventually have labels for GMO products. But for now, organic is your best bet.
Then spread the meat sauce evenly over the chips. Go easy here, folks! Squelch the urge to go really heavy on the meat. If you use too much, the chips are hard to pick up and will get soggy. This was actually a bit much. I could have gone lighter.
Top the meat with the black beans, and spread cheese generously over all that.
Now it’s ready to pop in the oven. Don’t get antsy and use the microwave. The microwave doesn’t heat your cheese evenly, and you end up with some that’s not cooked and some that is baked on so hard that you need a chisel to break the chips apart. It only takes about 10-15 minutes in the oven because the meat is already warm. You’re just melting the cheese here.
(Of course, you can do this with cold meat that was left over from a previous meal, just allow more time in the oven.)
You can top your nachos with whatever you like. We used tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I recommend Wholly Guacamole!
Oh yeah! And cilantro! I adore fresh cilantro. Some people hate it, though, so you can save it out and serve it separately for people to add as they wish.
I should have also thrown some sliced jalapeño peppers on there — I even had a can in my cabinet, but I forgot. Sliced black olives are good too. I use them when I have them.
The trick here is to spread everything out evenly across all the nachos. Don’t pile it all in a big heap in the middle — then the nachos on the sides won’t get the benefit of the yummy toppings, and the ones in the middle will get all soggy.
Again, go easy with the toppings. You’re better off making 2 or 3 pans of nachos and spreading the meat and toppings sparingly rather than piling it all into one pan.
I still overdid it a bit, and it was hard to pick up the chips. Of course, if you like your toppings heavy, you can always use a fork. I’ll never tell.
How about you? Are nachos a favorite meal in your house? Try these, and tell me if these aren’t the Ultimate Nachos!
- a large bag of your favorite corn chips (I recommend organic. Just say no to GMO!)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease (I recommend bacon)
- 1 onion, minced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup strained tomatoes (I use Bionature in the glass bottle)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained
- 8 oz cheddar and/or monterey jack cheeses, shredded
- 1/2 cup diced and seeded fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup guacamole
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
- suggested: 1/4 cup sliced jalepeno peppers and 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat.
- Add the minced onion and sauté until soft and starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and stir around for just about 30 seconds. Careful, garlic burns quickly.
- Stir in the seasonings and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
- Crumble the ground beef into the pan, mixing occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until it's totally cooked and there's no pink left.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes, until it's nice and thick and happy.
- Taste it and adjust your seasonings.
- While the meat is cooking, prepare your toppings and spread corn chips evenly in a single layer on a large baking sheet. You can get two good sized pans out of this recipe.
- Spread the meat sauce sparingly over the chips.
- Top with black beans.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese generously on top of the meat and chips.
- Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese is evenly melted.
- Remove from the oven and add your toppings. Space them out evenly across the entire pan.
- Serve and enjoy!
linking up to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam