Nachos is a protein-packed dish that’s perfect just as avocados are coming back in season. PAT PILCHER prepares it the right way.
There’s nothing like a plate of nachos. Their crunchy, super fresh deliciousness is hard to beat, especially with a good chilli and zingy guacamole.
For most people, Nachos consist of store-bought corn chips, some grated cheese and baked beans. This might do at a pinch but making your own corn chips and a decent chilli/guacamole makes a huge difference. It’s easy, here’s how:
2x cups Masa Harina
1x cup Water
Pinch of Salt
Glug of Oil
2x ripe (but not bruised) avocados
1x fresh lime
1x shallot or very small onion
1x tin tomatoes
1x tin of red kidney or pinto beans
1x stick of celery
1x generous pinch of dried oregano
1x generous pinch of dried Thyme
2x tsp of smoked paprika
¼ tsp of cayenne (optional)
½ tsp of chipotle
½ tsp of chilli flakes (optional)
½ tsp of garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
Glug of oil
2x radishes finely sliced as a side garnish.
In a bowl mix 2 cups of masa harina with 1 cup of water, add a pinch of salt (aim for a wet firm dough that isn’t crumbly) and mix to form a tortilla dough
Roll the dough out into a sausage, and cut into even 20-30mm chunks.
Roll each chunk into a small ball
Place a dough ball into the taco press (both sides of the press should be lined with clean plastic bags). I use an old plastic grocery bag on the bottom plate and a plastic file folder for the top so the tortilla doesn’t stick and can be removed easily.
Press the ball, flattening it into a tortilla
Using a fish slice, remove the tortilla and place onto a piece of baking paper.
Repeat these steps using a new piece of baking paper to make a stack of pressed tortillas.
Place a heavy pan (cast iron is perfect) on a hot element and heat it up. Use it to lightly toast the tortillas on both sides so they are firm and dry.
Place the cooked tortillas on the baking paper, making a stack of cooked tortillas.
Set your oven to 180c fan bake and let it preheat.
Once all the tortillas are toasted, use a small pair of scissors to cut the tortillas into corn chip-shaped triangles, and into a bowl.
Add a generous dollop of cooking oil and a pinch of salt and using clean hands, gently mix the oil and salt to coat all the corn chip triangles.
Lay the coated corn chip triangles out on oven trays and place in the oven once it reaches 180c.
Set a timer for 7 minutes and start preparing the chilli/making the guacamole.
Finely chop the garlic
Chop the onion
Cut the carrots into small pieces and chop these into very small cubes, repeating this step with the celery stick
Using a high-sided pan, add some oil, the cut onion and a generous pinch of Oregano and Thyme. Stir-fry the onions until they start to look cooked. Do not burn the onions as it’ll make the chilli taste bitter.
Add the chopped carrots and celery and cook until the celery is bright, and the carrot is cooked and fragrant.
Add the smoked paprika, cayenne (optional), chipotle, chilli flakes (optional), garlic powder, onion powder and combine, turning the heat down low for a gentle simmer and stir the spices into the vegetables, and cook for a minute.
Drain the juice from the beans and add to the pan, also adding the tomato and finely chopped garlic, and mix into the vegetables.
While the chilli is cooking down, finely chop the shallot and cut a lime in half.
Halving the avocados, scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin and stone, removing any bruised or discoloured flesh.
Place the avocado in a bowl and add the chopped shallots, squeezing in the lime juice.
Using a potato masher, mash the avocado and set aside.
When your 7-minute timer goes off, check the corn chips, if they are still soft, set your timer for another 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, the corn chips should be firm and stiff. Remove them from the oven and let them cool, which will allow them to harden up.
By now the chilli should be cooking, your corn chips are made and the guac is ready, the next step is assembly. You can go the traditional way and plate the nachos (see below), or opt for separate bowls for the chips, chilli, guac and garnish for modernist deconstructed nachos.
Place a layer of corn chips onto a plate and grate some cheese over them, put the plate into an oven and grill for 40-seconds to 2 minutes to melt the cheese, keeping a close eye on the chips so they don’t burn.
Remove the plate from the oven (it will be hot so use an oven mitt) and spoon a helping of the chilli over the corn chips and layer with more corn chips and cheese, again using the oven mitt, put the plate back into the oven for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute to melt the cheese, keeping a close eye on the corn chips so they don’t burn.
Remove from the oven (using an oven mitt) and spoon on another helping of the chilli. Then add some guacamole plus the sliced radish as a garnish (don’t forget to warn everyone that the plate is hot).
Serve and enjoy!