Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8: The Homesick Texan's Nachos

I am feeling quite a bit better than I was last night, but still rather anxious. I did have a teensy panic attack on the way home at the intersection of East-West Highway and Belcrest Road, where we were sitting when we heard the gunshots, and I am sure that by tomorrow I will have gathered up the courage to ride the Metro to work. Or maybe Thursday. Whatever.

Stressful. Yeah, I'm stress-eating, I'll admit it. Tonight, it's barely even a recipe: it's the Homesick Texan's nachos. She is totally right about nachos, by the way: a nacho is an individually-dressed, thick, freshly-fried chip, with melted cheddar cheese and a slice of jalapeno pepper. The end. Meat, beans, olives, lettuce--everything else is gilding a lily. I happen to like my nachos with guacamole. I like my lily very slightly gilded, as it turns out.

If you never make your own chips again in your life, it is worth doing for this recipe. A great tortilla chip is thick and unctuous, a tiny bit chewy, toasty, with big crunch. It will never be equalled by anything that comes out of a big plastic bag with a name that ends in -itos. The notes at the end are The Homesick Texan's.

At any rate, Tex-Mex nachos are just the thing for the night after a Wild West shootout at the O.K. Corral.

Homesick Texan's Nachos

6 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups of grated Longhorn cheddar cheese
24 pickled jalapeno slices
1/2 cup of refried beans (optional)
Peanut oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut the tortillas into quarters.
3. Pour enough oil in an iron skillet to come up 1/2 inch up the sides and heat to 375 degrees.
4. In batches, fry the quartered tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side (until golden brown) and then remove. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt.
5. Once chips have been made, spread each with 1 teaspoon of refried beans (if you so desire), 1 tablespoon of cheddar cheese and 1 pickled jalapeno.
6. Bake in oven for five minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream and/or salsa. Makes 24 nachos.

Notes: You can also top these anything else you can imagine. But use restraint and taste—nachos should be elegant and refined, not an exercise in excess. Also, if you don't feel like making your own chips (though you should as they taste better) tortilla chips from a bag work, too.

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