Here’s a little Friday freebie. Not one of our traditional recipes, really, but a suggestion to help you get through a busy weekend. Make a pot of chili — our favorite traditional chili is the All American Chili from Cooking Light, but we also love our Beef, Bacon and Chocolate Chili for a complex, not-so-spicy-but-very-tasty version. After you’ve enjoyed several bowls, buy a big bag of tortilla chips (Xochil is still our go-to brand) and some grated Monterey Jack/cheddar cheese. Open up that jar of pickled jalapeños sitting in the back of your pantry. (We were lucky — our panty is hiding several jars of pickled jalapeños and Serranos that I canned last fall, fresh from the Cherry Grove Organic Farm outside of Princeton, NJ.) And make a BIG plate of nachos. I’d bet many of you have made nachos before so this is just a reminder about how easy they are to make and how much everyone loves them. Especially during the weekend. For lunch. For dinner. Or, if you’re adventurous, for breakfast with a fried egg, sunny side up. Yum.
Although it seems like some version of nachos must have existed since moments after the invention of the tortilla, popular lore (and sources including the Huffington Post) hold that nachos were actually invented in the early 1940s at The Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico, when the wives of officers who were stationed at the Eagle Pass, Texas, army base stopped in following a south-of-the-border shopping trip. The maitre d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, couldn’t find the chef and ended up improvising a dish based on what was on hand (I guess that tortilla chips, cheese, and jalapeños were not in short supply at The Victory Club that day!). They caught on and, as legend has it, began working their way into baseball stadiums (the Texas Rangers had ’em first!), bars and burger shacks everywhere.
So, the whole improvisation in the kitchen aspect lends itself to our chili-topped version. Unlike many of our recipes, this is not low-cal nor justifiably healthy, though the chili in and of itself has plenty of tomatoes, kidney beans and bell peppers. But it is super tasty. And fast. And makes enough to feed a small nacho-loving crowd. Isn’t it funny how they always seem to show up on the weekend?
1 cup or more leftover chili (try our Beef, Bacon and Chocolate Chili)
8 ounces (half of a large bag) of your favorite tortilla chips
2 cups grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese — or combination
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices
Sour cream and guacamole or avocado slices for serving
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread out a layer of tortilla chips, one to two chips deep. Top with about 3/4 cup sprinkled cheese — try to get a little cheese on each chip — and about 1/2 cup of the chili, dolloped by the teaspoon on top of the chips. Top that with a tablespoon of jalapeño slices distributed around the chips. Repeat with a second layer of chips, cheese, chili and jalapeños. (You should have 1/2 cup cheese left over…you’ll want this for the next step.)
Slide the nachos into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and return to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Remove from the oven. You can serve these directly from the baking sheet or you can transfer the nachos, carefully, to a serving platter. Pass sour cream, guacamole, or avocado along side.
Serves: 4 (double or triple this recipe to serve more)
Kid rating: stars are awarded to dishes like this on a sliding scale based on the spiciness of the chili and ability to avoid jalapeño slices. For a mild chili and no stray jalapeños, five stars (the chips, cheese, sour cream and avocados are all five-star rated by our Sprouts…the chili, however, has to be spot on!).
Parent rating: five stars. The only thing you want to avoid is putting too much chili in any one area of the nachos or the chips will become soggy. Spoonfuls sprinkled all around works best. This is the kind of dish that just kind-of disappears when you make it, which makes it an ideal way to use up leftover chili…especially on the weekend.