There are two tricks to making really fucking awesome homemade nachos:
1. Make your own tortilla chips.
2. Think in terms of layers, like you’d do with lasagna.
I wasted many years of my life thinking I couldn’t make good nachos at home. Just so you know, I really, really like nachos — good nachos, not the crap with the liquidy cheese you get at baseball games (although that has its place, especially when you’re pregnant and baby wants an efficient jalapeno-delivery system). I tried many times. Many of these attempts involved pouring a bunch of Tostitos on a plate, spooning a bunch of refried beans mixed with salsa over them, topping with some cheese, and throwing the whole mess in the microwave. It seems like this would turn out okay, but I never liked the result.
As soon as Ben started making tortilla chips, I kind of saw the light. Making tortilla chips isn’t rocket science or anything — it’s super easy and people have probably been doing it since the dawn of time but I never thought of it. All you do is take some small corn tortillas (if you’re really bad ass, I’m sure you can make your own corn tortillas but I’ve never done it), brush a little oil on them, cut them into 6 tortilla-shaped pieces, and bake. The bonus? You won’t believe me because as a general rule, leftover nachos are gross, but I swear, leftover nachos made this way are actually good. Seriously!
So here is how you make really good nachos at home.
- small corn tortillas (however many you want — I just asked Ben how many he usually uses and he said he has no idea, however many you want, at least a dozen)
- olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer — we pretty much use olive oil for everything)
- homemade cheese sauce (recipe here) (or part of a brick of Velveeta cut into small cubes)
- shredded cheese (I like a mixture of cheddar and cojack)
- a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- chopped onion (as much as you want)
- sliced green onion
- toppings, such as diced tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, green chili, or whatever
Brush both sides of each tortilla with a light coating of oil (you don’t need a ton). Stack the tortillas and cut them into six equal pie-shaped pieces. Distribute evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for approximately 20-25 minutes, flipping approximately halfway through the baking process (I go for a shorter time because I like them to be more soft than crunchy — when they’re starting to get brownish around the edges, they’re probably good). Salt to taste (I’m usually generous because these are tortilla chips and tortilla chips are supposed to be a little salty).
Place a layer of the tortilla chips on an oven-safe plate — you want to do the best you can to create a thin layer that covers the plate, allowing each tortilla to overlap a little. It’s not an exact science, but your goal is to create a nice, thin surface for your toppings. On top of your tortilla layer, place as many black beans as desired (I usually do a good handful), chopped onion, salt (if desired), cheese sauce or several chunks of Velveeta, and a nice handful of shredded cheese. On top of this, place another layer of tortillas, beans, onions, salt (if desired), cheese sauce/Velveeta, and cheese. Then do that again (I usually do three layers of everything.)
Put four or five tortilla chips on the top layer of cheese. This will help prevent the cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil you’re about to put over your nachos.
When you have the whole mess assembled and have probably spilled cheese everywhere, cover the nachos with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes (check them after 25 or so — you just want the cheese to be all nice and melted) (if you do more than 3 layers, bake for 40 minutes). After the cheese is all nice and melted, remove the aluminum foil and bake 10-15 more minutes until the top is nice and brown. If you don’t like the look of the naked tortilla chips you put on top, sprinkle a little more cheese on top and broil for a few minutes.
Top with a sliced green onions and, if you like, diced tomatoes. Serve with homemade salsa (recipe here) or green chile, guacamole, and sour cream. I like to serve these on the side, so each person can control his or her own destiny with toppings, but it’s also fun to put guacamole and sour cream on top of the nachos.
Pictures of the process are behind the cut (like all pictures I take of food, they suck), on the off-chance they might be useful because I know I’m not very good at writing recipes.
Update: If you want to put fake meat on your nachos instead of black beans, follow the instructions here.
a better picture of the finished product