Sunday Supper: Layered "Super" Nachos
Editor's note: Each Saturday afternoon we bring you a Sunday Supper recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.
My uncle Bill first turned me on to "super" nachos (his term, not mine). I'll cop to being skeptical. "What's the difference?" I wondered. "Nachos are nachos," I concluded. Then I made them.
What sets them apart from your garden-variety nacho is they're built from smashed, compressed chips. They're also layered, affording an optimal ingredient ratio every time.
When assembling the dish, you want to get a crunchy foundation, so lightly oil the sheet pan before topping it with the first layer of chips. Note that the meat is heavily seasoned, with more flavor intensity than your average taco filling; this is intentional, as the nubs of meat fill the crevices of the crumbled chips. Remember not to skimp on cheese, since that's what binds the whole thing together. When the cheese melts, it commingles with the tortillas and browned, seasoned meat. The result is a dish that's waiting to be topped and able to be sliced.
The salsa has taken me some time to perfect. I have watched and queried my Mexican father-in-law about his lauded version many times. A good salsa is born of intuition, sure. But it's also about properly handling the ingredients—peppers included. I've taken his technique of boiling them to heart. Now, I expect stellar results every time.
Finally, be forewarned that this isn't the neatest of eats. Have a lot of napkins handy, and be prepared to vacuum up errant bits.
Note: Feel free to experiment with different kinds of meat. However, ground varieties work best. You don't want anything too juicy either, since it'll get in the way of establishing the crust.
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About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.