Nachos are one of the most popular dishes in Mexican cuisine in not only America but internationally as well finding their way into bar menus, food stalls, parties, home meals and Western restaurants worldwide.
It is traditionally made from deep-fried corn tortillas chips with typical nacho toppings of meat (ground beef usually), cheese, refried beans (from pinto beans), sour cream, and many many more (see below).
In recent years nachos have been adopted as a dish for many occasions such as football games, pot lucks, and movie nights. Share nachos with your friends and loved ones or people you don’t know well to create a sense of camaraderie and equality.
Some argue that nachos are not authentically Mexican and although it is true that its firmly part of Tex-Mex cuisine, it is still very much Mexican at heart as it was invented by a Mexican, in Mexico using Mexican ingredients. But many nachos lovers could care less as they are truly delicious.
Below we’ll go over the history of the nachos, why they are so popular, quick and easy steps to making nachos and what to do if you don’t feel like making your own nachos (if you are in Taipei, of course).
The History of Nachos
In 1943, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya was working at Club Victoria (or Victory Club) in the border town of Piedras Negras, Mexico, when a group from the neighboring Texas town of Eagle Pass came into the restaurant looking for something to eat. As the restaurant’s maitre d, Anaya’s responsibilities usually consisted of attending to guests, but at this time the cook was nowhere to be found.
Anaya, not wanting to turn people away, instead, ducked into the kitchen to make a quick meal with whatever ingredients he could find. The deep-fried tortilla chips garnished with grated cheese and sliced jalapeños were a hit. It needed a name, so Nachos Especiales—a tribute to their creator — was given and the name stuck, at least 50% of it did.
Nachos Are So Versatile
Nachos can be eaten during any meal; breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it all works. It even works as a robust snack, especially after a night of drinking.
Speaking of drinking, it pairs well with any alcoholic beverage of choice: beer, tequila, whisky, gin n tonic, vodka lime soda, old fashion, a crisp white wine, red wine, the summertime favorite of Aperol Spritz and champagne. Yes, you read that right, champagne and nachos works! There’s even a rap song called Champagne and Nachos by Mel RIce.
You can have the classic nachos of just tortilla chips topped with melted cheese or you can add an endless variety of toppings to it. Some like to concoct a topping combo to impart the flavors of your region. For example in the state of Mississippi in the US they have nachos topped with crawfish.
4 Steps to Making Great Nachos
Another great thing about nachos is that they are easy to make yourself at home. It doesn’t require a lot of culinary skill to make great-tasting nachos. We didn’t want to put out a “recipe” as be believe the nachos is a blank canvas for you to show off your creativity.
1) Choose your Tortilla Chips
Unfortunately, though, you don’t have a variety of choices like your would in the US like blue corn organic tortilla chips, multi-grain tortilla chips, or special chips made especially for dipping.
What if you can’t make it to Costco or Jason’s? Regular potato chips or Doritos that you can get at your corner convenience store can work in a pinch. Or some Taiwanese stores have sweet potato chips.
2) Choose Your Cheese
Part of the amazingness of nachos is the pure gooeyness of the cheese. It’s simply not nachos if it doesn’t have any cheese on it.
But which cheeses are best?
You’ll want cheese with excellent meltability. Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, and American cheese are just a few of the great melters. Check out this article for the best 13 kinds of cheese for nachos.
3) Melt the Cheese
But how to melt that cheese that tops those crispy corn chips?
There are a few ways to melt that cheese. You can put the shredded cheese on top of the corn tortilla chips and then either melt the cheese in the oven or if you are a pinch, the microwave.
If you have the time, try to prepare a cheese sauce for your nachos, which is the best way to make them. You can make cheese sauce at home with cheese, milk, butter, and flour over low heat. Check out this great recipe for cheese sauce.
4) Choose your toppings
Part of the beauty of nachos is its a canvas that allows you to unleash your culinary creativity with the toppings.
And with the toppings, the sky, as they say, is the limit! You can add pretty much anything you want on your nachos for a delicious twist. Some of our favorites are salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, refried beans, sour cream, cheese sauce, and lime juice.
Some other popular toppings are chopped lettuce, thin slices of onion, green onion, hot sauce, black pepper, cilantro, black olives, black beans, ground beef, tomatoes, cheese curds, red bell pepper or jalapeño slices.