Culinary Classic: Nachos

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Some of the most iconic appetizers and snacks were created out of the necessity to calm unforeseen hunger cravings when the pantry is all but depleted.

Who can forget Teressa Bellissimo who invented Buffalo (chicken) wings at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, one night in 1964 when her teenaged son and his band of party-reveling friends showed up at the restaurant hungry.

Mrs. Bellissimo took some chicken wings that were intended for the stock pot, deep-fried them, then coated them with a mixture of hot sauce and butter. On the side, she served celery sticks and blue-cheese dressing.

The rest is history.

The Birth of Nachos

Nachos have somewhat similar history.

In 1943, a group of military wives who had been shopping in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, arrived at Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya’s restaurant after it had already closed.

To accommodate his unexpected guests, Ignacio cut corn tortillas into wedges, fried them, topped them with cheese and put them under the broiler until the cheese melted. Before serving, he added sliced jalapeño chiles to the platter.

Variations

As word and popularity of nachos spread in the coming years, fans of the snack food began to expand the horizons of what constitutes a plate of nachos.

There are Irish nachos that feature corned beef, Italian nachos on fried pasta chips with sliced meatballs, Asian nachos on wonton strips, Southern BBQ with pulled pork or brisket, and so many other variations and ethnic twists and turns—even dessert creations.

If you want to get creative, the fabulous Serious Eats website has a Nacho Recipe Generator, in which you answer several questions about composition and toppings and out comes a recipe with exact quantities and instructions.

Make it a Meal

From appetizer to main-course “loaded” nachos can be accomplished in just a few easy steps.

Take the basic nachos recipe and enrich its toppings with some type of protein. Seasoned ground beef, chicken strips, black or pinto beans, or pulled pork are all excellent choices. Then add cheese, and heat.

After removing from the heat, add cool toppings before serving, such as tomatoes, spicy pickled or fresh peppers, jalapeños, diced onion or scallions, sour cream, guacamole, chopped lettuce, or black olives.

Nacho Recipes

Inspired to make your own nachos at home? Try topping your nachos with Beef & Chorizo Chili or Mole Beef before smothering them in cheese.

For cool toppings, nothing beats a fresh homemade salsa, such as Baja-Style Salsa.

Check out this video recipe from our friend Troy of YouTube channel “T-Roy Cooks” for Easy Fajita Nachos:

 

What are your favorite toppings for nachos? What about cheese or creamy toppings? What are your favorite cheeses when topping nachos? What’s your favorite protein to put on nachos?

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