Homemade nachos. Photo by Chee Hong | Wikimedia.
Who doesn’t enjoy a hearty plate of nachos for a snack, or even for a main course? They’re the easiest Mexican dish to make at home.
At the most minimal, you can simply cover tortilla chips with shredded Cheddar or other semihard cheese, with or without salsa; then use the microwave or broiler to melt the cheese. Serve the nachos with a beer or a Margarita, of course.
You can get creative with your nachos, adding anything you have on hand. Our favorite add-ons to nachos:
Black beans and corn kernels—or use a bean and corn salsa
Chili (bean, meat or combination)
Chopped chives, cilantro or parsley
Sliced jalapeños, fresh or pickled
Shredded chicken or pork or crumbled ground beef (a great use for leftover hamburger)
For visual and flavor interest, use a mix of yellow and blue corn tortillas (for Independence Day, use red, white and blue).
And for a more legitimate main course, here’s a recipe for Nacho Stuffed Shells, “nacho pasta.”
THE HISTORY OF NACHOS
Nachos are an example of necessity being the mother of invention.
As the story goes, in 1943 a group of Army wives from Fort Duncan, in Eagle Pass, Texas, had gone over the border to Piedras Negros, Mexico, on a shopping trip. By the time they arrived at the Victory Club restaurant, the kitchen was closed.
But the accommodating maître d’hôtel, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya (Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio), threw together a snack for the ladies from what was available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. He cut the tortillas into triangles, added shredded Cheddar cheese, quickly heated them and garnished the dish with sliced jalapeño chiles.
When asked what the tasty dish was called, he answered, “Nacho’s especiales,” Nacho’s Special.
In Mexico, nachos are called totopos, the word for tortilla chips (totopos). French fries, potato chips and even popcorn are sometimes substituted for the tortilla chips.