These are for nacho lovers who are looking for something extra and are willing to resort to cutlery. Use freshly fried, thick slices of russet potatoes or thickly cut kettle potato chips. The topping starts with the tinga vegetable base (see related recipe); cooked beef, chicken, shrimp or beans can be added (see VARIATIONS, below).
A quick toss in a garlic-epazote oil adds a layer of flavor, but it's an extra step of prep. We found fresh epazote at Panam International Supermarket in the District (202-545-0290). If you can't locate any, substitute cilantro leaves.
As for the cheese, use it sparingly. Taste the chipotle beef mixture in the skillet; if it's not too salty, crumble in a sparse amount of Mexican or Spanish blue cheese. If it's salty enough, you might want to opt for a dry Jack cheese, which we found at Cheesetique in Del Ray (703-706-5300).
Serve with differently colored disposable forks, so your guests can eat their way through (communally) to the potatoes that are no longer crisp.
Make Ahead: The potatoes can be fried an hour in advance and drained on layers of paper towels. The nachos should be assembled just before they are served.
Servings: 12 - 14
- For the potatoes
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus about 2 1/2 quarts for frying
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Leaves from 1/2 bunch epazote (about 3 ounces), cut into thin strips (julienne; see headnote)
- Cloves from 1 head garlic, minced
- Kosher salt
- 12 to 15 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed clean (see headnote)
- For assembly
- 3 to 4 cups braised boneless short ribs, defatted, then coarsely chopped (may substitute 3 to 4 cups cooked shredded boneless skinless chicken or 1 1/2 pounds cooked peeled and deveined shrimp, coarsely chopped; see VARIATIONS)
- 3 1/2 cups Tinga (see related recipe)
- 4 to 6 ounces mild blue cheese or dry jack cheese, crumbled (see headnote)
- 2 cups Cabbage Escabeche (see related recipe)
- Mexican crema, for garnish
- 2 bunches scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, for garnish
- Pickled Chili Peppers, for garnish (see related recipe)
For the potatoes: Heat the 2 1/2 quarts of oil in a large saucepan over high heat, to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels, then place a wire rack on top. Have a medium heatproof bowl and a large platter at hand.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil, the 1/2 cup of olive oil, the epazote julienne and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and fragrant. The epazote will be a darker green. Remove from the heat and season with salt to taste.
Trim the end (peel) pieces from the potatoes. Cut the potatoes crosswise into thick slices (less than 1/4 inch). Add about a potato's worth of slices at a time to the hot oil; fry for 6 to 8 minutes, turning them so they are lightly browned on both sides and tender. Use a slotted spoon or Chinese skimmer to transfer to the wire rack to drain for a minute, then transfer to the bowl and drizzle with a little of the garlic-epazote oil; toss to coat. Transfer to the platter, arranging the potatoes in a single layer (or place them back on the wire rack once the platter has been filled).
Repeat to use all of the potatoes and garlic-epazote oil.
For assembly: Combine the chopped braised beef and tinga vegetable base in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Stir well, then cook for several minutes until heated through and slightly darkened in color. Scatter the cheese (to taste) evenly over the mixture; let sit until the cheese has started to melt, then remove from the heat.
Distribute the beef mixture with cheese evenly over the potatoes. (If necessary, make 2 layers of potatoes and the cheesy beef mixture.) Scatter the cabbage escabeche over the mixture, then drizzle with the crema. Sprinkle with scallions and strips of pickled chili peppers. Serve warm.
VARIATIONS: For a vegetarian version, combine 3 cups of cooked cannellini or great Northern or mayocoba beans, 1/2 cup chopped drained artichoke hearts and 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers with the 3 1/2 cups of tinga vegetable base. Top with crumbled dry Jack cheese or asiago, the slaw, crema and grilled scallions (left whole).
Adapted from David Suarez, chef and culinary director at Rosa Mexicano.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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