Cooking at home is not just cheaper and safer than eating out or ordering in, it’s also definitely a healthier lifestyle choice. Preparing food needn’t be an elaborate affair. Just a few of our simple strategies can help you crack the toughest recipes. We bring you a series of articles with tips and tricks for the kitchen, so you can learn how to cook like a pro, and avoid the mistakes that haunt rookies and seasoned chefs, alike.
Whether your friends have popped by for a chat or to watch the game and you didn’t have time to whip up some nosh, or you just felt like snacking on something instead of eating a whole meal, nachos make great sense. Their appeal lies in their being versatile and able to tease, then satisfy taste buds in so many different ways; by being crunchy, salty, spicy, cheesy, and gooey–all at the same time. No mean feat, that. But instead of reaching for store-bought nachos, which are loaded with too much salt and way too many synthetic preservatives, it makes more sense (health and money-wise) to just make your own.
Of course, nobody wants soggy or chewy nachos, so read on for suggestions on the tools, techniques and ingredients needed to prepare a batch of picture perfect, crunchy nachos.
- Pick Your Chips Well: Simpler is better in this case so put away the fancy, gourmet chips and stick to the standard stuff. Just make sure it’s thick enough to scoop up the chunky stuff without breaking or going soggy. Salted is good although if you’re worried about eating sodium-high foods, just make your own chips by cutting soft tortillas into pieces before frying them and salting them lightly.
- Please With Cheese: Nachos marry well with cheese so don’t scrimp on this ingredient and instead, buy wisely. No, we’re not saying you ought to splurge on the best cheddar money can buy, not when you can get excellent results from using Monterey Jack that melts like a dream. A standard sharp cheddar or even some pepperjack would be great as well but never, ever use pre-shredded cheese that is chock full of synthetic stabilizers. Sure, it saves time but you lose out big time on taste. Instead of big hunks or medium sized pieces, grate the cheese as fine as possible so it melts evenly to create the gooey goodness you crave.
- Experiment Easily: There’s a reason why people follow tradition recipes; you can rely on familiar flavors, there are no surprises to throw you off and it’s so easy to prepare that you can do it in your sleep. But if you do want to shake things up and are willing to risk stumbling upon something amazing, travel outside your comfort zone and experiment with unusual flavors. Anything Asian or Indian is exciting, so go crazy with magical miso, wicked curry or even a tangy tamarind chutney to lend a mind-bending angle to your nachos.
- Layer Like A Player: Start with a base of chips that completely covers the bottom of the dish. Then load up on the other fillers such as beans and shredded meats or vegetables with some cheese. Now another layers of chips, some more beans and meats or veg, all covered with enough cheese to create a bubbling, golden top crust in the oven.
- Make It Bite-able: There’s no reason to use cutlery when eating nachos since it makes perfect finger food. And while it’s not exactly date-meal material, this beautiful mess that is harmoniously chaotic should be easy to eat. So to avoid it being unwieldy, ensure everything is bite-sized.
- Respect Temperature Zones: While cheese, beans, meats and chips taste good hot, nachos are all about the contrasts of these items with the pleasurably cold bits, which could be sour cream, or guac, or salsa and fresh herbs. Don’t mix these two polar opposites until just before serving.
- Minimize Mess: The chips, cheese, layering and experimenting all went well and all you have to show for your efforts is a big empty tray where the nachos used to be; except for that crummy layer of melted cheese stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pre-empt this painful clean-up chore by lining the pan with aluminum foil before you start. Once the dish is done, all you have to do is dispense with the foil in one easy move, saving you time and energy, not to mention water.
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