The Nachos Of My Dreams
In June of 2015, on the anniversary of my birth, I hosted a Tour d’ Nachos in which my friends and I biked around the city in search of the best nachos Nashville had to offer. Helmet-clad, we went from East Nashville to West Nashville, from Midtown to Downtown, all the while stuffing our faces with chips, queso and a whole variety of smoked and pulled meats. If I hadn’t considered myself one before the Tour, I knew my status as a nacho aficionado had been solidified after committing to such an extravagant affair.
To this day, my only regret about TDN is that Bastion didn’t make the cut. To be fair, the only reason Bastion didn’t make the cut is because the Tour came a year too early for Bastion. It was not yet open.
But when the bar did open in Winter of 2016 (the restaurant side had not), word traveled fast about the nachos that served as the sole food offering. And when I took my inaugural trip very shortly thereafter, all of my nacho desires were fulfilled. Bastion’s nachos incorporate all of the necessities: stacks and layers of chips, smoked meats, cheese sauce (mere shreds will certainly not do), ample cilantro, pickled onion, and [maybe most importantly] dope ass salsas. Are we allowed to say “dope ass” here? Well, we are. Because these salsas are dope. ass. salsas.
Friends, I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now to save this recipe. Print it out and put it in your recipe book or stick it in a safe spot on your bookshelf or put it in the frame that sits next to your bed and mark it as Important!!! Because these nachos are what dreams are made of and I’m here to tell you right here, right now that I don’t want to live any waking moment without them.
All of that said, I’ll offer one word to the wise: this recipe is intense, so if you don’t love making nachos...don’t. Just go to Bastion!
Makes 6 to 8 servings
12 to 16 ounces tortilla chips (1 large bag)
One 3- to 4-pound smoked or rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 2 cups of meat)
1 cup grated American cheese
1 cup Bastion Queso (see recipe below), warm
½ cup pickled jalapeño slices (from a jar or homemade)
½ cup Pickled Red Onions
½ cup sliced black olives
2 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup sour cream
½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
1 cup Raw Tomatillo Salsa (see recipe below)
Black Hot Sauce (see recipe below), for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. Arrange half of the chips on a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter half of the chicken and American cheese over the chips. Repeat to form a second layer of chips, chicken and cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour a generous amount of queso over the chips. Arrange the remaining toppings over the chips and serve with the tomatillo salsa and hot sauce on the side and/or drizzled over the chips.
Makes 2 cups
1 cup whole milk
1 cup beer (nothing hoppy)
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño brine
1 pound Velveeta Queso Blanco, shredded
In a large saucepan, combine the milk, beer and jalapeño brine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then whisk in the Velveeta until it’s melted and glossy. Keep warm until ready to use.
Raw Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 2 cups
1 pound tomatillos (about 6 medium)—husks removed, washed and quartered
½ small white onion, diced
1 large jalapeño pepper (with our without seeds), coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
In a blender, combine the tomatillos, onion, jalapeño and garlic. Stir in the salt and sugar and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days.
Black Hot Sauce
(Makes 1½ cups)
1 small white onion, cut into ½-inch slices
1 large poblano pepper
3 jalapeño peppers
3 serrano peppers
3 habanero peppers
1 bulb roasted garlic, separated into cloves
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt, to taste
Prepare a hot grill or preheat the broiler to high. Grill (or broil) the onions and peppers, turning frequently, until blackened all over, removing the smaller peppers as they’re finished (the poblanos will take the longest). When the peppers are cool enough to handle, discard the stems and seeds (or leave the seeds in if you like a very spicy salsa). Transfer the peppers to a blender, add the garlic and honey and blend at high speed until the sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week.