Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cheeseburger Nachos

Courtesy of Christine Skopec
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Cracking open a beer or shaking a cocktail at home might be one of the most relaxing ways to spend a weekend evening, but that doesn’t mean you should resort to a boring bag of pretzels for the accompanying snack. Using original recipes from our Bar Snack Saturday series, you can turn out eats that are easy, delicious, and sure to wow your pals.

Combining two winning foods to create one dish either ends deliciously or disastrously, and you never really know until you try. For some reason, we were pretty confident the marriage between nachos and a cheeseburger would work. We were correct.

About this recipe...

Food mashups are known for being over the top, criminally delicious, and a ton of work. We wanted to make something that kept the cooking firmly in the easy category while still delivering on the first two promises because making food for your friends shouldn’t be stressful. We managed to achieve our goal by cooking a simple onion and beef topping and using the standard burger fixings instead of making a bunch of condiments from scratch.

Start by cooking the onions in a bit of oil. Adding this one extra ingredient to the meat delivers a surprising dose of flavor without the harsh bite you run into when using raw onion. Once they’re softened and browned around the edges, add the meat along with a hefty amount of salt and pepper. Because ingredients are kept to a minimum, the meat mixture needs to be really well seasoned.

As with a regular burger, use beef that contains 20% fat. It has tons of flavor and stays really juicy, even when fully cooked. That’s really important for these nachos because the meat will get heated again in the oven. Once your meat is nicely browned, just use a few paper towels to soak up the extra grease, then you’re ready to build.

Most nacho recipes go wrong by layering all of the chips, all of the meat, then all of the cheese. You wind up with a handful of great bites, but then a bunch of naked chips are left on the bottom. The solution is as simple as doing it twice. Lay out half of the chips, top with half the meat, sprinkle with half the cheese, then repeat. And speaking of cheese, we went with a smoked cheddar here to help recreate some of that grill-like flavor.

The nachos need about 10 minutes to bake, then things go pretty fast. As soon as the dish comes out of the oven, drizzle the entire tray with plenty of ketchup, mustard, and mayo that’s been thinned with a bit of water. You can get as fancy with the condiments as you like, but we stuck with basic ketchup and yellow mustard. Top with some chopped dill pickles, then dig in as soon as your fingers can tolerate the heat. Keep the napkins handy.

Because none of the flavors in this recipe dominate, it’s incredibly flexible as far as beverage pairings go. If you’re a wine drinker, consider combating the salt and fat with a dry, sparkling white wine. Skip the Champagne, though. Opt for something less expensive like Cava. The beef and toppings also partner really well with red wines. Serious Eats recommended a bold, fruity Zinfandel to stand up to burgers with ketchup, onions, and pickles.

Both nachos and burgers go well with a variety of beers, so you have a lot of options here as well. CraftBeer recommended reaching for an IPA. Be open-minded, though. A group of beverage professionals suggested sour beers, pilsners, and even cider in a story by Eater Boston.

If you’d prefer a cocktail, the Washingtonian said a margarita made with mezcal helps echo the grilled flavors of a burger, which works equally as well for the smoked cheddar we used. Need a recipe? Try this simple one from Gimme Some Oven. You can also play off the idea of a summer cookout by making a drink featuring iced tea and whiskey.

Cheeseburger Nachos

Exercising restraint when cooking is usually a good idea, but you can honestly add any other toppings you’d like to these nachos. Pickled jalapeños, coleslaw, diced tomatoes, and sweet relish would all be pretty at home. This recipe makes enough for 4 to 6 people.

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 6 ounces tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise thinned with 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ cup chopped dill pickles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onion and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add beef and season generously with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, occasionally breaking meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and drain off fat.

On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread half the chips in an even layer. Top with half the beef mixture, then half of the cheese. Repeat layers once more, transfer to the oven, and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes.

Drizzle nachos with ketchup, mustard, and thinned mayo. Sprinkle chopped pickles over top and serve immediately.

Cheeseburgers and nachos, both really delicious but together, even better!

Bon Appétit...

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