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How Many Ways Can You Make Nachos?

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

how-many-ways-can-you-make-nachos

Who Did This?

Some foods have a long history—years, centuries, even millennia; spanning the globe and undergoing numerous iterations. And then, there’s the nacho, a simple food with a simple story. Here’s how it all began.

Once upon a time, Ignacio Anaya (or Nacho, as he was known to his family and friends) was maitre d’ at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico. One day, in 1943, a few officers’ wives from Fort Duncan Air Base traveled across the border for a day of shopping and sightseeing. That evening, they arrived at the Victory Club for a bite to eat, and so according to Anaya’s son:

He said ‘Let me go quick and fix something for you.’ He went into the kitchen, picked up tostadas,’ grated some cheese on them–Wisconsin cheese, the round one–and put them under the Salamander (a broiling unit that quickly browns the top of foods). He pulled them out after a couple minutes, all melted, and put on a slice of jalapeño.”He called the snack Nacho’s Especiales.

In 1954, that concept of tortillas with melted cheese and jalapeños hopped across the border to Eagle Pass, Texas. The ladies of the Church of the Redeemer published St Anne's Cookbook, which documented the original recipe.

After that, the scent gets cold. Perhaps that cookbook by the Ladies of the Church of the Redeemer was a best-seller? We pick up the trail once again in San Antonio, Texas, a distance of about 140 miles from Eagle Pass. This is where Carmen Salas lived with her parents. We are told that she learned of nachos there, and carried memories of that dish with her when she wed and moved to Los Angeles in 1959. Carmen Rocha (her married name) became a waitress at the El Cholo Restaurant. And according to the L.A. Times:

For a special treat Rocha sometimes went into the kitchen and made her customers an order of nachos, an item not included on the menu. She followed a recipe she learned in San Antonio, where she grew up, layering tortilla wedges, shredded cheddar cheese and slices of jalapeño pepper, warming the dish in the oven. Before long she had requests from all over the dining room and her nachos were added to the menu.

Another legion of fans claims that the fame of nachos spread not in Los Angeles, but at a 1976 Texas Rangers game at Arlington Stadium. Two years later, Howard Cosell sang their praises during a Monday Night Football telecast.

As they say, the rest is history.

I'll give you a basic recipe, and then let's explore and see how many different variations on a theme exist out there in Google land.

Recipes in This Article

  • The Original Nachos Recipe
  • Buffalo Chicken
  • Mexican street corn
  • Pulled pork
  • Greek
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Doritos
  • Irish
  • Jalapeño shrimp
  • Black bean

The Original Nacho Recipe

The recipe is adapted from a 1969 interview with Ignacio Anaya. The nachos that are made today are a pile of chips heaped with ingredients; this original version is beauty in simplicity.

Ingredients (makes 12 wafers)

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded longhorn cheese, about 3 ounces by weight
  • 1 Tbs Canola Oil
  • 12 pickled jalapeño slices

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Brush the oil on both sides of each tortilla, cut each into quarters, and bake them in a 350º F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They will turn a darker brown, but do not let them burn.
  3. Shred the cheese and distribute it among the tortilla triangles. Place a slice of jalapeño on each.
  4. Bake the triangles in a 350º F oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Alternately, you can place them under the broiler for a minute or so. Keep a close watch so that they do not burn.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

There is no doubt that Buffalo chicken holds a place of its own when we list regional tastes that have gone viral. Everyone recognizes the name and loves the flavor. How could we not put it on a chip as done here with these Buffalo chicken nachos?

Mexican Street Corn Nachos

Mexican sweet corn has so many amazing flavors. First, of course, there's the sweet corn, but then you have the butter, mayo, crumbled cotija (or feta), cilantro, chili powder and lime juice. It's a mouth-explosion of flavor. Could anyone be brave enough to put that on a chip? Well, Kevin did, and here is his recipe for Mexican street corn nachos.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Pulled pork is a guilty pleasure of mine. Those crispy bits on the edge, the succulent juicy strands of meat from the interior—greasy, sweet, buttery pork. Don't make a pulled pork simply for the sake of this recipe. But do plan ahead and save some so that you can make these nachos from the blog CrunchyCreamySweet.

Greek Nachos

Marla Meridith blogs about fashion, beauty, travel, lifestyle, and (lucky for us) food. Her recipe for Greek nachos replaces the tortilla chip with pita chips. When I make this I use ground turkey instead of ground lamb but make this to suit your own tastes. The tzatziki sauce and fresh tomatoes are a must.

Pizza Nachos

Andrea is a former restauranteur and shares her wonderful recipes with us on her blog TaylorMadeMarket. Her recipe for pizza nachos starts with marinara and a creamy garlic sauce. Toss on cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and then, the sky's the limit. Adapt this recipe to include all the flavors you love on a pizza.

Chicken Doritos Nachos

I still haven't quite figured out what the staff of Shared do; they are located in Ottawa and magically (my word) make things go viral, like this recipe for Chicken Doritos nachos.

Be warned, Doritos are addictive; these nachos are addictive. Don't blame me if you can't stop.

Irish Nachos

Despite the famine of the mid 19th century, we still associate potatoes with Ireland. DinnerAtTheZoo has turned the love of potato chips and traditional baked potato toppings into a great Irish nacho.

Jalapeño Shrimp Nachos

The shrimp are briny and sweet, the jalapeños spicy, and the queso and Monterey jack cheeses are rich and creamy. WillCookforSmiles puts them all together perfectly for us in these shrimp nachos.

Black Bean Nachos

Last but not least are these vegetarian-friendly black bean nachos from Olena and her iFoodreal blog. Olena is originally from the Ukraine but now lives on the West Coast. Her nachos are invitingly colorful and tasty.

So, Have I Intrigued You?

© 2018 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 18, 2018:

Manatita, hello again. Yes, sometimes "less is more."

I do enjoy telling stories with my food articles. I feel that it helps create memories far better than simply presenting a list of ingredients and instructions.

Halloumi cheese is amazing stuff. Cheese that can be grilled!

I have one book. If you look at the biography on my profile page you will see the title and how to obtain a copy. Thank you.

manatita44 from london on February 18, 2018:

In some ways, creativity is like working with words. We see or hear something and feel a strong desire to embellish it. Sometimes, like nachos, it may be better or different or worse. I rather like the original, though.

You tell a great story as usual. You have books out, right?

An amazing array of dishes! I like the black beans and the Greek nachos are close to the Greek salad, which I love. Add two pieces of Halloumi cheese.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2018:

Audrey, I'm so happy to hear from you today. I agree--when making nachos, there's something for everybody. If you use soy-cheese you could probably even make these vegan (although I didn't suggest that in the article).

I wish we lived next door to each other. We could test-try so many fun foods together (...although we'd probably gain 100 pounds).

Thanks so much for your comments!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on February 07, 2018:

Who doesn't like nachos? These photos are mouth-watering. I'll order the pizza or black bean nachos please. Enjoyed the history about nachos very much. A delicious hub indeed!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2018:

Eric, you make me happy in being my friend, and being you. FYI, I am working on an article all about oats/oatmeal. But it's not how to cook oatmeal (LOL) or even what to put on top of it to make it taste good (or even passable). There are so many things you can do with those healthy oats. Stay tuned.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 07, 2018:

I had to come back and read the comments. You have great friends. I will get back I hope with Navajo and Hopi terms and gossip/read that verbal history. You make me happy in remembering my childhood food.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2018:

Mary, other than the original recipe, I think you can see that cheese is just one factor in the creation of nachos, and doesn't have to be the star of the show. I'm looking forward to doing the Mexican street corn nachos when corn is available at the Farmers Markets the Shrimp/Jalapeno are calling to me.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on February 07, 2018:

Linda, what I want to know is how to get drool off my keyboard. LOL

It has been ages since I've had nachos. I need to correct that. I like the idea that these also have different types of cheese.

The cheese here is rather plain tasting.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 07, 2018:

Actually, sometimes I add black olive slices to them.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2018:

Bill, I had a feeling that this one would grab your attention. Actually, I HAVE had a bad plate of nachos, but I didn't make them LOL. I hope you'll give some of these a try and report back to me.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2018:

Shauna, it sounds like you are staying true to the original concept. Are you SURE you don't want to branch out a little? Throw caution to the wind.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 07, 2018:

I am drooling!

I am of the belief that there is no such thing as bad nachos. I aim to prove that point whenever the opportunity presents itself. :) Thanks for the recipes.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 07, 2018:

I love nachos, but for me, the simpler the better. I often cover tortilla chips or pita chips with cheddar cheese, nuke the dish for a minute, than add plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) to the melted goodness.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 06, 2018:

Flourish, it's like the two best things in the universe all in one happy plate, right? Hope I haven't destroyed your diet. Thanks for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 06, 2018:

Pizza nachos! Why not?!? You have me very interested and hungry.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 06, 2018:

Eric, when I wrote this article I only had in mind the food we have for the past 70 years or so called "nachos". I recognize that fry bread could certainly be a part of that story.

Perhaps I should do another that goes back in time to the origins of the tortilla, flat bread, fry bread and the use of maize. We still have so much to learn and share. Thank you for your input, your insight, and your friendship.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 06, 2018:

I am astonished and amazed. I cannot find the Hopi or Navajo fry bread original names I will ask my friends. Soft bread at first and then later "chips" for the left over corn meal and lamb kind of "Mole".

I must say that with this it was "Indian" corn meal ground in a Matate'. Going back at least 700 years. We have found Matate going back to maybe the time of Christ here in the Southwest.

So I read this wonderful article and go hungry. We will do the whole thing of three tomorrow.

Please do not consider me rude - shocked is all. But not by you.

By the lack of online attribution. Thurman Jushangava's family will help.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 06, 2018:

Wesman, you and I are in complete agreement. Nachos require REAL cheese, not something processed from tofu or nutritional yeast flakes. I love Mexican food (...and Italian, and Thai. Oh heck, I just love food).

Thanks for commenting. I hope you stop by again soon. I've at least 300 more food-related articles for you to peruse.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 06, 2018:

Kristina, I haven't tried them (yet) but I agree, they look so good. I'm waiting for Farmers Market fresh corn. Yum. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on February 06, 2018:

Well I don't think I've ever heard a story of the history of the dish, but now I'm that much smarter.

Hey, I live in Texas, and about half my meals are more or less Mexican inspired. I'll take those nachos any way that isn't vegan. Thanks!

Kristina Hearn from Iowa on February 06, 2018:

These all look delicious! I'm a fan of Mexican street corn, so I will definitely be trying it nacho style!