carnitas + hatch chile sheet tray nachos
Do you ever just have one of those weeks where you need a giant pan of nachos, some sweats, and the ability to binge Netflix shows on the couch without remorse? I hope it's not just me. Sometimes I just need a reasonably simple and comforting dinner. And it doesn't matter that it has zero health benefits--if anything, the less healthful, the better. I like to think I live a fairly balanced life. And no life is truly balanced without an obscene amount of nachos from time to time. Now, if you're a more reasonable kind of person this meal would likely feed a crowd. The perfect snack for any weekend to just lay out on a table and let people go to town. I happened to top these nachos with my beer braised carnitas because I usually make a giant batch and keep some in the freezer for occasions such as these, or when I need tacos STAT. However, you could throw any meat on top (or no meat) and it would still be delicious.
With hatch chilies being in season, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to roast them and throw them in my nacho cheese sauce. If you're not in the southwest, where hatch chilies are abundant, I've found awesome frozen ones at Trader Joe's or you can substitute roasted poblano chilies. The roasted chile flavor just really takes these nachos over the top. I'm a huge toppings person so feel free to top these with anything and everything. Sliced radishes, avocado, salsa, olives, cilantro, cotija, grilled green onions, jalapeño, pickled onions, corn, cabbage. You get the idea. The sky's the limit when it comes to nachos. Just do me a favor, pick really good chips okay? None of this tostitos garbage. Go to a Mexican market or a taco shop and get the fresh stuff. Or, if you're feeling real ambitious, make your own! Whatever you do, please don't buy whatever the American excuse for tortilla chips is, k? Great. This may not be the most elegant of meals, but it is delicious and comforting. Now, go forth and stretch out those sweats with crazy amounts of nachos consumption.
CARNITAS SHEET TRAY NACHOS:
2 large bags of good tortilla chips
beer braised carnitas or meat of your choice
hatch chile nacho cheese sauce (recipe below)
pico de gallo (recipe below, or store bought)
additional toppings of choice
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half sheet tray or a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chips in an even layer across the tray. Having overlapping chips is fine, the goal is simply to get as much of the toppings over all the chips as possible. Toast chips for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top with crispy carnitas, cheese sauce and toppings.
HATCH CHILE QUESO SAUCE:
makes about 3 1/2 cups
2 cups half and half
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (try not to use pre-grated cheese)
5 hatch chiles or 3 poblanos
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Turn on a gas burner. Place chiles directly on the flame and cook until totally blackened on all sides. Place charred chilies in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. Peel the charred bits and remaining skin off the chilies, remove seeds and stems, dice and set aside. Alternately, chilies can be placed on a sheet tray under a broiler on high until charred. Follow the same process after.
In a saucepan, bring half and half to a simmer. Add cream cheese and whisk until no lumps remain and sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat and add chilies and shredded cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted. Add lime juice, salt and pepper. Use while still warm.
PICO DE GALLO:
makes 2 cups
1 ripe beefsteak tomato, finely diced
3 tablespoons white onion, very finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon salt