Nacho Average Human
We’re all guys, right? But what does that really mean?
Guy (gī) noun, male member of Homo sapiens species, order Primate, class Mammalia, noted for extraordinary Adontine handsomeness, super human abilities including leaping tall buildings in a single bound, [Editor’s note – only small buildings – this goofball exaggerates everything,] wise beyond Einstein and assured of a Nobel Prize as soon as Sports Trivia becomes a Nobel category, expert at everything, and capable of anything.
Let’s just face facts, we guys are pretty damn great! But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hone our talents to the pinnacle of perfection – particularly if we want to take home the much coveted Olympic Nacho Gold Medal.
Olympic Nacho Gold Medal
In non-professional, non-competitive situations nacho making has become almost trivially easy. Sports broadcasting is essentially a long protracted continuous commercial barrage, briefly interrupted at random moments for a few seconds of on the field action (giving us plenty of time and opportunity to jump up and make the ultimate quick nacho dish). However, we must remain true to our roots and shoot for a maximum of 60 seconds – with 30 seconds being the ultimate goal if you want to stand on the top of the podium.
Preparation is key. Everything must be ready to go and each step optimized for maximum efficiency.
More Cheese Please
Start with the cheese. It MUST be grated cheese. If you even consider for a second using the yellow plastic goop dispensed at the ballpark, not only have you fallen beneath contempt by all true guys, but you do so at the peril of your very manhood.
I use a mix of extra sharp cheddar, (the more yellow the better,) Mexican queso blanco (white cheese), and Romano in about equal amounts. I’ll sometimes add a dash of Parmesan for a little more international flair. Grate these into a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Stash in the refrigerator covered until game time, (I’ve got a huge, quick opening Tupperware clone that works perfectly.)
Queso Oaxaca, or quesillo can be substituted for the queso blanco, or if you can’t find anything else, use Monterey Jack. If you are a total purist, you can leave out the Romano, but give it a try first. The hint of Italian gives it a little extra zing.
When I Chip, You Chip, We Chip
Next we need chips. These need to be fried corn (for God’s sake, NEVER use flour – shudder!) tortilla chip triangles. Because different brands are available in different markets, you’ll need to experiment a little (This is not a bad thing as you’ll be “forced” to eat all the experiments). Do not consider the “restaurant style” paper thin chips that explode in your hands when you try to pick them up.
You want chips that have got a man-sized heft to them that can be safely loaded down with cheese and salsa and then safely transferred to your mouth. Besides, they taste better and provide the necessary corn crunch. Try several different brands. My favorites is actually a store brand carried by my local HEB grocery store. If nothing else, Frito-Lay chips are widely available and acceptable.
When purchasing chips, don’t just grab a bag. Check them carefully as you don’t want a bag of crumbs. I’ve had to be restrained from violence on occasion when I’ve witnessed stockers pounding the bags into the rack to squeeze in one more bag! (Definitely a capital offense – slay them now!)
When you get home, DO NOT tear open the bag – use scissors to slice open the top. And God help you if you wait to tear the bag open during assembly as you are likely in your panic to explode chips all over the kitchen. Forget the “chip clip” – use office binder clips to seal the bag. You can buy a dozen for the cost of one “chip clip.” Besides, they work better.
If you really are “going for the gold” you can arrange the chips on plates before game time. You don’t want to do this too far ahead as lengthy exposure to air is bad for them. When I feel competitive, I’ve got a rack that holds several plates and that a cake cover fits over. Be warned however as this is an advanced technique. As you race along it’s far too easy to sling chips off the plate as you scramble for an extra second or two.
Let’s Dance The Salsa
On to salsa. There are about as many choices here as there are guys. My favorite store brand is Pace’s Thick and Chunky. Pace also makes mild, medium, and hot varieties. Check the aisles, grab a selection, and give them a try until you find a favorite. My all time favorite was made by the mother of an employee many years ago. Unfortunately, her recipe died with her.
Never Met A Pepper I Didn’t Like
Last are Jalapeño slices. If you are of that persuasion, you can also use Habanero chunks. Sadly, as much as I love Jalapeños, they don’t love me or my 71 year old stomach anymore. To prep for them, I always lined them up on a saucer with the correct number for a full nacho plate already counted out.
You don’t have time for hand washing when actually making the nachos – and you damn sure don’t want to get any of the hot stuff in your eyes, (trust me, you will only make this mistake once,) so I used a cocktail fork to transfer them to the nachos. After I had counted and arranged them, I’d stash them in the fridge in another Tupperware clone.
A Functional Time Keeper
One other item you will need for training is a good stop watch. Don’t use a phone or some nonsense. You want a real stop watch on a lanyard that hangs around your neck. Besides, it looks cool wearing it to sporting events. It is best if you have a second person as a time keeper. This should be a MALE friend. The first time, I recruited the Darling to keep time. Big mistake – she cost me so much time I’d have missed a couple of plays in a game situation. But – I couldn’t just leave her lying on the kitchen floor after she fainted from watching my culinary skills.
Commercial Break Nachos
- 1 Cheese grater
- 1 Large plate
- 1 Microwave
- 3-4 Handfuls Corn tortilla chips
- 8-10 oz. Grated cheese *whichever mix you prefer works (cheddar, jack, etc.)
- 6 oz. Salsa *the Pace in the jar is my favorite
- 3 oz. Pickled jalapenos
- Grab 3-4 handfuls of tortilla chops and place on large microwave safe plate
- Top with shredded cheese
- Microwave until cheese starts to melt
- Add salsa to nachos
- Microwave for another 15-25 seconds
- Top with cold pickled jalapenos
- Return to the game just in time!
Show Time, Baby!
OK, it’s show time! If you are competing in the doubles competition, your assistant needs to move things in and out of the fridge and microwave while you do the assembling. As a single, you have to do it all. I’ve got pretty big hands, so I can grab everything at once from the fridge.
The secret to killer nachos is getting the right temperatures. The cheese and tortillas need to be hot. The salsa needs to be warm and the Jalapeños need to be fridge cold.
Start by putting the cheese atop the tortilla triangles. After some experiments, I found a deep measuring spoon/cup of the right size. A quick scoop in the cheese then dump in the middle of the chip. Shove these into your microwave. You’ll have to experiment a little. My microwave is an over the range unit rated at 1550 watts. For me, that works out to 30 seconds to get it ready for the next step.
Now pull the plate out of the microwave and add the salsa. Similarly, I found another deep measuring spoon/cup for the salsa. Back to the microwave. For mine, 20 seconds works out right. Back out of the microwave and add the Jalapeños.
Back to the game and enjoy with a freezing cold beer.
With just a little practice, you should be able to do it in 60 seconds easily. You’ll probably even have enough time to make a restroom pit stop – something you’ve likely been practicing for a while.
For competition, you don’t have any time to waste since the microwave is going to eat up around 20 seconds. It’ll take efficiency, efficiency, efficiency in every move you make. You need to choreograph it like a fancy ballet and practice, practice, practice.
Just make sure you don’t run out of cold beer while eating the practice runs.