Who doesn’t love a good mash-up? Done right, it can turn disparate things into something deliciously different for the ears — or the taste buds.
Like that dish, this one is simple. It’s so basic that I was on the fence about sharing it in this column. Then I made it, watched folks devour it and knew it was a winner.
Besides, I’m a firm believer in breakfast for dinner, and an advocate of snacky suppers, too. A scrambled egg with cheddar and salsa scooped into a tortilla has been my evening meal more times than I can count. On weeknights, my husband and I have been known to cobble together a dinner from odds and ends in our pantry and refrigerator.
That’s how the original nachos were born. Whalen shares the dish’s origin story: Restaurant maitre d’ Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya first made the snack for a group of U.S. Army wives in 1943 in Piedras Negras, Mexico, using foods he had on hand: chips, cheese and jalapeños.
Whalen’s recipe combines two traditional breakfasts: Mexican chilaquiles — a recipe for that dish is featured in his cookbook as well — and American bacon and eggs. For many of us, it could probably be pulled together almost any night. Like all nachos, it is easy to vary and fun to eat, too, so, as Whalen points out, it would make a solid company’s-coming brunch dish as well.
He first gently scrambles the eggs and then makes them creamier with the addition of sour cream (or crema). Chips are layered on a sheet pan; topped with cheese, cooked bacon and sausage; and broiled until the cheese melts and chips just start to brown. Then the custardy eggs are spooned on top. Finally, it’s dotted with salsa.
This recipe, like most of the others in the cookbook, definitely falls into the occasional indulgence category.
Whalen describes his recipe collection as “pretty traditional” and “really far out” (think Italian sub nachos or lamb gyro nachos). He said he draws on food that he’s enjoyed, including Mexican salsas and sauces, but also classic dishes from his childhood, such as beef stroganoff, and from other lands, including Vietnam, India and China.
Whalen said he strives to “appreciate, not appropriate” flavors from around the world, writing: “I want to make one thing very clear at the outset: I’m a white man writing a cookbook about recipes that riff conceptually (and sometimes materially) on Mexican dishes and also play with ideas from culinary traditions from all over the world.” His goal, he says, is to learn about different cultures through food and encourage others to explore all kinds of cuisines in a fun, creative way.
And while he plays pretty fast and loose with the definition of nachos, creating some eyebrow-raising combos, he urges us all to continue to rely on Anaya’s three pillars for building them: “crispy base (chips), melty layer (usually cheese) and flavorful toppings (such as jalapeños).”
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- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup crema or sour cream, plus more for serving
- 12 ounces tortilla chips (about 100 chips)
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded pepper jack cheese
- 6 ounces cooked sausage (any flavor), thinly sliced
- 5 slices thin-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup salsa, for serving (optional)
- Chipotle sauce, for serving (optional)
- Sliced scallions, for serving (optional)
Position the rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler and turn it on.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Break the eggs into a large bowl, add the cumin and whisk until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan and cook, stirring constantly and lowering the heat as needed, until the eggs just start to set and you get soft curds. Remove from the heat, stir in the crema or sour cream and cover.
On a large, rimmed baking sheet, evenly arrange the tortilla chips, overlapping as little as possible. Top the chips with the pepper jack, sausage and bacon, followed by the cheddar. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and broil for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the chips are starting to brown. Watch carefully to make sure they do not burn.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, as evenly as possible, top the nachos with the scrambled eggs. Spoon the salsa, additional crema or sour cream and/or chipotle sauce on top and sprinkle with the scallions, if using. Or serve the toppings on the side.
Per serving (about 12 chips plus toppings, using blackened salsa), based on 8
Calories: 520; Total Fat: 34 g; Saturated Fat: 14 g; Cholesterol: 216 mg; Sodium: 909 mg; Carbohydrates: 32 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 12 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
Adapted from “Nachos for Dinner” by Dan Whalen (Workman Publishing Co., 2022).
Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to email@example.com.
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