The Washington Post

El Rey Nachos

El Rey Nachos 8.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Jan 30, 2017

Here, the flavored cheese sauce coats but does not cool to a firm, congealed state, which makes it perfect for those who appreciate good nacho coverage and for those occasions where guests can build their individual portions.

A sturdy corn tortilla chip is highly recommended; to make your own, see the NOTES below.

To read the accompanying story, see: The perfect nachos: A step-by-step guide.

Make Ahead: The poblano peppers can be roasted, peeled and refrigerated a day or two in advance. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; reheat over medium-low heat or, for a party, in a slow cooker on the warm setting.

8 - 10

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 servings

  • For the sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds poblano peppers, roasted (see NOTES; may substitute 4 jarred, roasted red peppers)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound sliced American cheese
  • Kosher salt (optional)
  • For the nachos
  • One 25-ounce package 6-inch fresh corn tortillas, cut into quarters and fried (may substitute 1 pound lightly salted corn tortilla chips; see NOTES)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and light-green parts)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked black beans and/or cooked, chopped chicken or roasted pork
  • Pickled onion slivers and/or pickled jalapeño slices (see NOTES)

Related Recipes


For the sauce: Combine the roasted peppers and water in a blender (not a food processor) on high speed, making sure not to include any seeds; puree until smooth. The yield is just under 2 cups.

Heat the heavy cream in a nonstick saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the cheese and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is creamy. Reduce the heat to low to keep it warm.

Stir in the poblano puree; taste, and add salt as needed. (If the chips you’re using are salted, you may want to skip adding salt to the sauce.) The yield is about 4 cups.

To assemble the nachos, line individual wide, shallow bowls or baskets with wax paper or coated paper liners. Place two or three handfuls of chips in each one. Use a ladle to distribute the sauce over each portion of chips, then scatter equal amounts of the scallions, beans or cooked meat and the pickled onion on top.

Serve right away.

NOTES: Roast the poblanos on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until they begin to deflate and the skin looks loosened. Transfer to a zip-top bag and seal to steam for about 10 minutes, then discard the skins, stems and seeds.

To make your own corn tortilla chips, fry the quartered fresh corn tortillas in batches in 350-degree canola or vegetable oil just until golden. Drain on a rack over paper towels; if you wish to salt them, do so right away. To bake them instead, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with cooking oil spray, seasoning lightly with salt, if you'd like; toast in a 375-degree oven till lightly browned and crisped.

To quick-pickle the onion, toss together 1 red or white onion cut into thin half-moon slices, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a generous sprinkling of salt in a medium bowl; let it sit for 5 to 8 minutes, so the onion wilts a bit. Stir in 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar; let it sit for about 15 minutes, so the vinegar infuses the onions, and the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Recipe Source

Based on a recipe from Carmen Nuñez, the chef at El Rey Taqueria and Mexican Beer Garden in the District.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using store-bought unsalted chips, no-salt-added black beans and 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices): 720

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 44g 68%

Saturated Fat: 20g 100%

Cholesterol: 95mg 32%

Sodium: 680mg 28%

Total Carbohydrates: 60g 20%

Dietary Fiber: 9g 36%

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 22g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle