Quarantine’s got me craving comfort food, and comfort food is just a euphemism for carbs. I try not to keep tortilla chips, one of my favorite carbs, at home because I’d eat chips and salsa for every meal, but the world’s in a crisis, so I have two party-size bags of tortilla chips in my cupboard. What better way to utilize tortilla chips and indulge in comfort food than nachos?
Traditional nachos are amazing, but I was in the mood for a twist. A barbecue chicken twist. I slow cooked the chicken for eight hours on low in my own concoction of apple juice, brown sugar, chili powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Typically I slow cook my barbecue chicken in root beer and a store-bought barbecue sauce, but this time I eschewed my go-to in favor of my own flavor, which was a total experiment.
After four hours in the slow cooker, I tasted the marinade to check the flavor and shred the chicken. I added more brown sugar to thicken the marinade, however it already was incredibly sweet, so I also added garlic powder, more salt, and red pepper flakes. Another four hours later I celebrated every spice I added and congratulated myself for shredding the chicken when I did. Shredding the chicken halfway through cooking allowed it to soak in all the flavor and moisture, giving it both an appealing color and robust taste when complete.
I wanted to incorporate some elements of a traditional plate of nachos, so I opted for Pico de Gallo. Pico is equal parts delicious and easy to make. All it takes is a chopped onion, chopped tomato, chopped jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste. So fresh, so simple. The perfect flavors to top barbecue chicken.
In addition to Pico de Gallo, I topped my nachos with a simple cheese sauce. To make this, I melted butter; added and simmered milk; seasoned with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne to taste; folded in shredded cheddar and mozzarella; and stirred until melted. Whipping up these toppings couldn’t be easier.
Once all my toppings were prepared, it was time to assemble. The secret to good nachos is similar to dressing when you’re unsure of the weather: lots of layers. My layers were chips, chicken, chips, chicken, cheese, Pico. Toppings can be layered and alternated with chips in any preferred order and should be ubiquitous to ensure a desirable chip-to-topping ratio.
The nachos were tasty: ample toppings, symbiotic flavors, balanced textures. And while I enjoyed my meal, I likely won’t use the leftover chicken for another plate of nachos. I received the comfort for which I was searching, and now I’m ready for something new. Thankfully barbecue chicken is versatile and can be used for several dishes, or eaten on its own. But I’m more thankful that I now have two dips for devouring all my tortilla chips. The party-size bags won’t last long.