Perfect nachos for New Year's Eve | Chef Dez
An unsatisfying visit to a franchise restaurant, and the expectation of the New Year's Eve celebration, has compelled me to write this column on nachos.
With fierce competition in the restaurant industry, it surprises me that there are any menu options that lack flavor, let alone something as simple as nachos.
For about $10 plus the cost of adding chicken or beef, I was presented with a mediocre-sized plate of bland nachos.
The presentation was great, as it offered many colors to please the eye, but flavor was very scarce.
There was nothing special about them. One would like to assume that restaurant owners and managers actually taste their wares and make efforts to offer the most superior product within their means and food cost budget.
Flavor comes from a variety of ingredients that will produce a complex, complimentary taste in the final product.
First, let's discuss seasoning. The chips weren't seasoned, not even a light dusting of salt.
This gave the impression that the nachos were made with pieces of crispy cardboard.
The spicy chicken that accompanied the toppings was bland.
Seasoning is very crucial. For example, if one was consuming tomato slices, chances are they would be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper to help enhance the natural tomato flavor.
When preparing nachos for a crowd at New Year's Eve, make sure to use a number of toppings to add depth of flavor.
I recommend starting with salted tortilla chips that are thick enough to support a number of toppings and inhibit sogginess.
Rather than placing all of the ingredients on top of the nachos, build three or four layers of chips, cheese and toppings.
This ensures that toppings are in abundance throughout the dish, and no one is left with plain chips once the top has been consumed.
One can use an array of ingredients, but I recommend the following: aged cheddar cheese, beef or chicken cooked with blackening spice or taco seasoning, fresh diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, green onions and jalapenos.
Furthermore, season each layer with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and chili powder.
The additional seasoning will guarantee the full taste of the toppings will be prominent.
Make a habit of being selective with ingredients in any recipe you prepare, and you will have a more superior tasting product.
For example, instead of using mild cheddar cheese, use extra-old aged cheddar – the taste will be more prevalent throughout.
For the other topping suggestions, make sure you use fresh ingredients whenever possible.
Serve with side dishes of sour cream, fresh salsa and homemade guacamole for the perfect accompaniments, and you will have everybody raving about your celebratory fare.
All the best to you in 2014!
Dear Chef Dez,
Is it just me, or do you find that jalapeno peppers aren't as hot as they used to be?
You are absolutely right. When I was a teenager, it was considered daring to order these fiery green rings on nachos, and downing three or four slices was a feat in itself.
I won't reveal how long ago that was, but the demand for these peppers has grown considerably over the years.
Through some investigation, I learned that in many instances they are now cultivated to be milder.
This is done to expand the appeal of this pepper to a larger consumer market and thus increase sales even further.
Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary instructor and cooking show performer. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send your food/cooking questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.