Ball Park Nachos From "Ultimate Nachos"

Homemade ball park nachos on a plate with sour cream on top.
Karen Wise

Those of us who have spent time at sporting events, movie theaters, or amusement parks have probably eaten our fair share of sad concession nachos. You know, the stale round chips topped with "beef" and neon cheese served from a pump. And while these will certainly fill your belly, they're a far cry from even remotely decent nachos. But making a plate of concession stand-inspired nachos at home transforms a junky meal into something worthy of feeding friends.

Lee Frank and Rachel Anderson's Ball Park Nachos in Ultimate Nachos is one of the best ways to do so. Their take calls for a base of spice-laden picadillo, studded with raisins. They pile this mixture atop chips and then douse the whole thing in a bechamel-based cheddar cheese sauce. Sour cream, pickled japaleños, and pico de gallo add punch and brightness to finish.

Why I picked this recipe: It'd be impossible to cook from a nachos cookbook and skip a recipe with ground beef and oozing cheese sauce.

What worked: Sloppy, spicy, and gooey, this recipe hits all of those guilty pleasure points of concession stand nachos, but with much sharper flavor and better ingredients. It's a finger-licker.

What didn't: I thought the picadillo had too much dried spice flavor going on. Next time, I'd either hold back on the chile powder or else bloom it in the rendered beef fat before adding the remaining ingredients. Or both. Be careful with your choice of cheddar in the cheese sauce, too. Too sharp and it won't melt well. If you want to to use an aged cheese, round it out with some monterey jack to ensure smooth meltability.

Suggested tweaks: These are the kind of nachos that can take just about any of your favorite toppings. Pinto beans would be a nice addition, as would a fat scoop of guac and slivers of pickled red onions. Seriously, though. You could top the picadillo and cheese sauce with virtually anything and be super happy.

Reprinted with permission from Ultimate Nachos: From Nachos and Guacamole to Salsas and Cocktails by Lee Frank and Rachel Anderson, copyright 2013. Published by St. Martin's Griffin. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

Picadillo:

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • One (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

  • 2 tablespoons chile powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 3 garlic cloves, diced

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1/2 pepper green bell pepper, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 pepper red bell pepper, seeded and diced

  • Juice of 1 lime

Nachos:

  • 7 ounces corn tortilla chips, approximately half of a store-bought bag, or, if prepared fresh, use 15 corn tortillas, each cut into 6 triangles

  • Picadillo (above)

  • Béchamel Cheese Sauce, made with cheddar, warmed

  • 1/4 cup jarred pickled jalapeño peppers (optional)

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • Classic Pico de Gallo

Directions

  1. To make the picadillo: Soak the raisins in water for 20 minutes to plump. Drain the liquid from the raisins before using.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef over medium heat until browned, making sure to break up any lumps. Drain the excess grease from the ground beef.

  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices and the chile powder, cinnamon, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the beef-tomato mixture for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat until the liquid has reduced by half.

  4. Add the garlic, onion, and peppers. Cook until the vegetables are tender and all of the liquid has cooked off, about 15 minutes. Stir in the drained raisins and lime juice.

  5. To assemble the nachos: Layer the tortilla chips in a 9 x 13-inch roasting pan. Evenly distribute the picadillo mixture over the tortilla chips, then cover the chips with the cheese sauce.

  6. Garnish with the pickled jalapeños, if using, and serve with sour cream and the pico de gallo.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
927 Calories
53g Fat
73g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 927
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 22g 109%
Cholesterol 154mg 51%
Sodium 1773mg 77%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 26%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 72mg 359%
Calcium 632mg 49%
Iron 6mg 36%
Potassium 1347mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)