The idea of “taco night” isn’t something we practice; I know most of my friend’s families do but I’m pretty particular about my mixins when it comes to Mexican food and the concept just didn’t excite me enough to grab all the extra items at the store that I don’t typically have on hand (namely cilantro, scallions, avocado, and tortilla chips). You know what does excite me? NACHOS.
There’s a place in our town called Ram’s Head – more accurately it’s a bar. On nice nights we will meander there after a “town walk”, sit outside and order the chicken nachos and a couple light beers (for me – Tess prefers a full-bodied brew). The nachos are huge and the four of us eat them for our meal (which makes for a very cheap and very happy dinner out). I wondered if I could make a dinner version? To take a snack food and make it a meal, I’d need to dial down high calorie, less nutritive aspects (chips, sour cream, anything refried, and cheese), and dial up the protein and healthy fats (meat, beans, avocado).
I essentially made these nachos with the things I like on my nachos, while taking care to bake them in a way that ensured even amounts of cheese and toppings on each chip. Since it’s a pet peeve of mind to eat even a single soggy chip, I opted to put the salsa on the side. I served our “dinner” while still on the baking sheet and explained to Tessa that our super fun meal didn’t even need plates and she could eat with her hands. She joined into dinner with more gusto than other meals and was more adventurous with what she tried. Why did nachos get sent to live on snack island? They now have a place in our line up. Also – you should serve them with mango margaritas because that’s what I did and the concoction put a permanent smile on my face. Recipe to come.
Chicken Nachos for Dinner
1 bag tortilla chips
6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. canned black beans (rinsed)
3 jalapenos, thinly sliced (seeded and deveined if serving to kids)
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooked and shredded
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 avocado, cubed
1 c. roughly chopped cilantro
Salsa, to serve on the side
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Spread 1 layer of chips onto baking sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese, some black beans, a handful of jalapeno slices, about half of the chicken, and a handful of scallions.
3. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven.
4. Top with more chips, then sprinkle cheese, beans, jalapenos, chicken and scallions. Sprinkle the remaining cheese as the top layer.
5. Bake for another 5-8 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and melted.
6. Remove from oven and top with cilantro and avocado. Serve nachos with a small bowl of salsa on either side.