nachos with beef chilli
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Nachos are an obscenely cunning trick of how to turn eating crisps into a full meal. Loaded nachos (we would say ‘filled’ in Britain; clearly ‘loaded’ always sounds good to American ears) are one of those Mexican dishes created for the north of the border – as in fact their history claims to be. Needs must, empty the cupboard and put together, I only have dry tortillas and cheese – that’s how the great dishes of the world are created (ahem: *sarcasm detected*).
But I’m not really dissing nachos – I do absolutely love them and if it wasn’t for the 500kcal per 100g of the chips alone, before the cheese, the chilli and all, I’d have them every other day. And I don’t even like potato crisps, which, incidentally, aren’t that far above corn chips in calorie content.
A genius way to zing up a boring bowl of chips for a crowd coming back to yours for the last drink: dribble grated cheese, drained tin of corn and some jalapeno slices out of a jar. Stick it all in the oven for 10 minutes and it’s gone in 5. Trust me, I’ve been there.
For a full blown dinner, the recipe below is just excellent and it’s easy to prep ahead. I’d make double the amount of chilli and freeze the surplus – it makes the absolutely best freezer find*. If you’re particularly committed, make your own tortilla chips, recipes around galore. But it’s supposed to be fast, fatty, calorific, satisfying dish at the end of the day so some processed ingredients are a must. Just serve them with green salad to relieve your conscience.
*freezer find is when you’re rummaging through cupboards, fridge and freezer on a Friday evening before the weekly shop is delivered on the next morning; and you’re trying to find something better than edible to go with that Friday night beer.
nachos with beef chilliServings: 4Time: about an hour, plus chilling the crema
- For the sour cream topping:
- 120ml (½ cup) soured cream
- 120ml (½ cup) double cream
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- For the beef chilli:
- 1 tbsp. ancho chilli powder or paste
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp tomato powder or paste
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cornflour
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 300g (10oz.) beef mince
- ½ cup water
- For the salsa:
- 3-4 ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
- a dash of Tabasco
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large lime, juice only
- ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 200g (7 oz.) plain corn tortilla chips
- 100g (3oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar
- about 100g (1 cup) cooked sweetcorn kernels, fresh or tinned
- 1 fresh or pickled jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, pitted and sliced
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 2 limes, for garnish
1. To make the sour cream topping (crema), whisk the sour cream and double cream together in a bowl, then add the salt and the lime juice and whisk again. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours and best overnight, until it thickens.
2. For the beef chilli, first prepare the seasoning: stir together the ancho chilli, cumin, salt, paprika, tomato, black pepper, sugar, cornflour, red pepper flakes and coffee in a small bowl.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and soften the onion. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork, until browned – for about 5 minutes. Add about half the seasoning and fry for a couple of minutes to toast the spices. Add the water, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add more water if it looks too thick. Taste and add more seasoning depending on your taste.
4. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.
5. In a shallow oven dish or a baking tray arrange two layers of the tortilla chips topped with the beef chilli, sweetcorn, cheese and jalapenos.
6. Finish with any remaining chilli and cheese on top and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
7. In the meantime make the salsa: combine all the ingredients and season to taste.
8. Remove the nachos from the oven, top with the salsa, avocado and dollops of soured cream topping. Scatter the coriander, garnish with lime quarters and serve immediately, with any extra salsa and crema on the side.