Monday, March 22, 2010

The Best Nachos Ever

No really. EVER.

You know you've been eating too many of The Best Nachos Ever when you run out of chili powder several times since your daughter's been born, but you maybe never ran out of chili powder before she was born. Another clue is when you realize you can't make The Best Nachos Ever for your husband's birthday because you've already served The Best Nachos Ever to all the birthday guests when they've previously visited, and you don't want them to think all you eat is nachos. Even if that is sort of the truth.

The thing is, these are so good and so easy and did I mention they are the best ever?

What exactly, you may ask, makes these nachos The Best Nachos Ever? Well, there's a little something called America's Test Kitchen's Beef Taco Filling, plus a lot of love.

(Fancy chips and high quality cheese help too.)

The Best Nachos Ever
Adapted from Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen - 2006 Companion
Yield: enough for 3-4 big eaters (i.e., we have never had leftovers)

Beef topping
1 teaspoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. lean ground beef (or other ground meat; we have successfully used yak and bison from farmer's market)
1/2 cup tomato sauce or diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (or plain vinegar if that's what you have)

1 bag delicious, thicker-cut tortilla chips (or half a bigger bag)
4 ounces sharp cheddar or jack cheese, coarsely grated (about a cup)
2/3 cup (about half a 15 oz. can) refried beans with green chilies

To finish
Avocado or guacamole
Fresh, coarsely chopped cilantro
Fresh salsa
Sour cream
Cholula or other hot sauce of choice

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot and just shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon and scraping the pan bottom to prevent scorching, until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce or tomatoes, water, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low (or low if you have a hot gas burner, like we have) and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently until the meat has no more large chunks and the liquid has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. (This meat is great in tacos too, just as the American Test Kitchen gods intended.)

On a nonstick baking sheet, layer the tortilla chips, dollop with refried beans, evenly pour the beef topping, and finish with the shredded cheese. Place in oven and broil for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortilla chips are browning a bit around the edges. Nibble a bit to make sure the beans are cooked through. When done, serve immediately to only those most deserving of loved ones with the sides listed above and/or anything else that sounds good to you.

You are REALLY going to like these. Probably because they are the best ever.


  1. Edith, I had no idea you had such a passion for nachos. This makes my love for you grow a whole inch more. Just reading this over, I can already tell this is DEFINITELY something I can get on board with. But question: do you eat them as appetizers? Like, is this an appropriate "meal" I could make for my little family? Or should this be more of a fun Sunday afternoon "snack"? Please advise. I'm new to the world of nachos, and not sure how to correctly consume them.

  2. Nicole: This is a meal. Or at least we eat it as a meal. I'm sure you could work some appetizer magic with it, but it is definitely hearty enough to be a meal. Sometimes I plan on serving it alongside a salad, but I never do.

  3. I love Nachos! I am too embarrassed to order them in a restaurant because I can work out in my mind how bad they are for me. But making them at home makes it automatically healthy, right?

    I think this could become a Mike Moore favorite.

  4. Yum. These are good, and I could never have enough of them....

  5. I totally bought all of the ingredients for these yesterday and as soon as I'm over the stomach flu I am making them post haste.

  6. We made these this weekend and they were awesome! Kids loved them, too. We'll try it again when we can sit on the deck and drink with margaritas. Might even try with pulled chicken simmered in that yummy sauce!

  7. Alicia: Has it become a Mike Moore fave yet?

    Lisa H.: I know. So good. I'll let you know the next time we make them.

    Erin: How'd it go?!

    JoAnn: I'm so glad you tried them! So so so good. And even better with margaritas because, well, everything is better with margaritas.

  8. The perfect recipe. Added lettuce and sliced black olives. Yum!!