Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sour cream chicken nachos with poblano salsa verde

sour cream chicken nachos with poblano salsa verde

Let’s talk about nachos, shall we? Now, I’ve gone on record stating my preference, which is for the traditional type of nacho where all the ingredients are on one chip. While this is how all nachos were served when I was young, I find this style more and more a rarity. I also realize that sometimes I am in the minority.

Take another Texan friend of mine in New York, for instance. He’s a Tex-Mex purist through and through and like myself loves his nachos made the correct way. That said, the other day he mentioned to me a place that served pile nachos and conceded that they had been delicious. “You should try them,” he said. “I think you’ll like them.”

Well, long story short, the nachos were sampled and while as a pile of chips topped with meat, beans, and cheese they were good. But it was a frustrating eating experience as many chips were either soggy from too much topping, or sadly bereft of any toppings, which wasn’t ideal either. It was a mess and ultimately didn’t satisfy all of us as we started fighting over who got what. It wasn’t fun and dare I say it, this pile of chips was not how nachos were intended to be.

I won’t continue down this path because I’ve made my preferences known before, but I thought it was important to share because as I was explaining to my friends why proper nachos are indeed better, one gave me steely look and said I needed to open my mind a bit and get beyond the traditional nacho made with cheese, jalapeños, and refried beans.

To defend myself, I first pointed towards my new book, which has a plate of Crazy Nachos on the cover, a popular Dallas dish that is so named because beyond the usual cheese, beans, and jalapeños there are also taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream on each chip. Crazy indeed! And not only do you get a mess of toppings but every chips has all of them, so everyone is happy.

Then I started thinking about other nacho variations found throughout the state, which adhere to the classic form of all the toppings contained on one chip. For instance, there are sour cream nachos, which are primarily found in restaurants across Dallas, though while not as common, they’re available sometimes in San Antonio, too.

Sour cream nachos, which are sometimes called sour cream chicken nachos because they’re usually made with said meat, are classic Tex-Mex. While there are slight differences available, basically the standard format is this: You take a chip, top it with sour cream, add some cooked, shredded chicken, sprinkle on some white cheese such as Monterey Jack and then run the dish under the broiler until the cheese has melted and the sour cream is warm and bubbling. To finish, you top each nacho with a piquant jalapeño, though if you want to keep it mild you could totally forgo this step.

Sour cream chicken nachos are much like their other Dallas Tex-Mex counterpart, sour cream chicken enchiladas, yet in just a more crisp and bite-sized form. This is a nacho for the dairy lover, for one who doesn’t really like the heat, as they are not super fiery and instead just a comforting blend of cream and cheese. This is not to say, however, that they are boring. No, they are simply a less exotic and earthy dish than others in the Tex-Mex pantheon but they are still delicious, especially if you are a fan of sour cream, chicken, and cheese.

To make my sour cream chicken nachos, I first make a salsa verde with tomatillos, poblano, and jalapeño chiles. Then I toss cooked, shredded chicken with the poblano salsa along with some sour cream. I fry some chips, layer them with the toppings, bake them, and then serve them with the remainder of the salsa on the side. (Of course, shortcuts can be taken, such as not frying your own chips, using a pre-made salsa, and even picking up a roasted chicken from the store.)

sour cream chicken nachos with poblano salsa verde

While I know plenty of people will disagree with me that nachos should be served this way, that’s fine because it leaves more nachos for the rest of us. That said, while these sour cream nachos may take a bit more effort as you attend to each chip, I have yet to have one person turn down these nachos, and yes, as with pile nachos, we'll also often find ourselves fighting over that last bite. I reckon some things never do change!

Austin-area friends: This Saturday, October 25th, from 11 to 11:45, I’ll be speaking in the Texas tent at the Texas Book Festival with a book signing afterwards. (Signed books make wonderful gifts and this will be my last Central Texas appearance before the holidays.) The festival has an amazing line-up of authors and I'm super excited to attend, and I look forward to visiting with some of y'all there!

Sour cream chicken nachos with poblano salsa verde

Ingredients for the poblano salsa verde:
1 poblano chile
2 jalapeños, seeded, stemmed, and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 pound tomatillos, husked
3 cloves garlic
1/8 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Ingredients for the chicken:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice

Ingredients for the nachos:
8 corn tortillas or 32 intact tortilla chips
Oil for frying
1 cup sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack chee
32 sliced pickled jalapeños
Cilantro, for garnishing

To make the poblano salsa verde, place the poblano under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the poblano in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let it steam for 20 minutes. Peel the chile by gently rubbing off the skin then remove the seeds. Place the poblano in a blender.

Meanwhile, place the jalapeños, tomatillos, garlic, and onion in a pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Transfer the vegetables to the blender along with 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the cilantro and cumin to the blender and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Toss the chicken with 1/4 cup of the salsa along with 1/4 cup of sour cream, cumin, and lime juice. Save the rest of the salsa for serving. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste if needed.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tortillas into quarters. Pour enough oil in a heavy skillet to come up 1/2 inch up the sides and heat to 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature by sticking a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles around the spoon, it should be ready for frying. In batches, fry the quartered tortillas for 1 minute, turning once or until golden brown, and then remove. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt. (If using pre-made chips, you can skip this step.)

Place the chips close together but not overlapping on a baking sheet, and top each with 1/2 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 tablespoon chicken, and 2 tablespoons Monterey Jack cheese. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. After removing the nachos from the oven, top each with 1 jalapeño slice and cilantro, if you like. Serve warm with salsa on the side.

4 to 8 servings



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Anonymous said...

Looks like I've found what I'll be eating tonight.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...


Kathie said...

I see Saturday football nachos in my future for this weekend! Thank you!...

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kathie--You're welcome! These nachos go very well with Saturday football!

THE Tough Cookie said...

This is the salsa I'll use the next time I make your Chicken Posole Verde!

TexasDeb said...

I am anti-pile nacho as well, Lisa. I'd rather stand and load individual nachos any day. Pile nachos are just wrong, along the lines of putting barbecued chicken on pizza! Just NO!

So you don't put your jalapeño peppers on your nachos before putting them in the oven? And you don't use the broiler?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that nachos should each be topped with yummy ingredients and not in one big pile. My family used to have a small Mexican food cafe and they used to top each and every one. These look and sound great!
Diane M.

Rodney Bedsole said...

I'm with you, Lisa, regarding the one chip, all toppings. When I lived in Huntsville, AL, I worked for awhile at El Palacio of Mexican Food Restaurant. They served the traditional nachos with their homemade refried beans, cheese, jalapeno, and guacamole as an option. They were the best ever. The restaurant was opened in 1966 by a family that moved to Huntsville, AL from Amarillo.

Your chicken version looks great and I'm going to be trying it soon.

Robert said...

MMMMMMMM!!!... nuf said! said...

I'm with you! I still fantasize about traditional nachos my family and i used to eat in an old San Antonio restaurant...makes my mouth water! Some things are sacred.

Nikki said...

I totally agree with you about pile nachos (the lazy cook's version). The chicken nachos sound super yummy, and since we've never made chicken nachos, I think they are in our near future!

patxck said...

I agree with you totally regarding the make up of a nacho. In fact I have a friend who will give a shake of her head and say "they're in a pile" thus saving us the pain of a bad nacho. I even love it when the nachos are just this side of burned --- something about the cheese and the blistered jalapeno is just too good.

shana said...

Lisa, I have long maintained that a pile of nachos is just plain wrong and have walked out of several restaurants when I learned that is how they make their nachos. I refer to them as "lazy nachos". These look amazing and I plan on whipping some up this weekend! Great dish!

librarianjen said...

I completely agree with your assessment of how nachos should be prepared and served! I have tried to explain this to others on occasion, and they just look at me like I'm crazy. :\ I can't wait to try these!

idyllhands said...

THANK YOU. I worked at On The Border in HS and college and at the time, they did their nachos like you prefer. Because of that, it became what I expected when ordering nachos. I've been let down time and time again. I always ask a new to me place about the construction of their nachos. People who know me expect it, but new friends at the dinner table snicker. I can only reply to them that this is important. I don't want chips and dip, I want a nacho. Can't wait to try out this recipe.

A Quiet Corner said...

YUM!!! I think I would love them!...:)JP

patxck said...

FYI Fine Cooking has a great recipe for shredded chicken in the Dec/Jan magazine. Oven heating for the nachos as I type.

jas88 said...

I have fond memories of large plate, with a ring of nicely made individual nachos (each chip coated in a thin layer of something like cheddar cheese, like a micro grilled cheese, with a single slice of jalapeño on top), then a set of dips in the middle.

Having said that, I've never yet had the patience to make my own that way at home - layer of chips, layer of cheese, microwave until it melts, eat with salsa. Plus chile con carne, usually. Maybe one of these days I'll try doing "proper" nachos for myself though...

Caroline @ Shrinking Single said...

Who knew that was the proper way to make nachos. Definitely not served so neatly in the restaurants I have been to in Australia but they do sound so much better! I hate the soggy chip at the bottom.

Julie @ Texan New Yorker said...

I do not disagree with you!!! I love proper Texan nachos, whether they are more simple with just refried beans and cheese, or loaded up with more substantial toppings. Yes, they take more time to assemble, but it's always worth it. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago - I was absolutely famished after a long, frustrating day, I had some nacho fixins' lying around, so I threw them together messy-style and immediately regretted it. They were still very flavorful, but not the same...

Anonymous said...

Yes! Am in complete agreement that nachos should be served so that each and every chip has whatever goodies on it!!

Was first served the plate piled high with stuff version about 30 years ago. While novel, and very entertaining that evening, it was just a huge mess. There is something very distasteful about a group of people stirring what looks like a plate of garbage with chips as they stuff themselves. Yuck!

Yours look great.


Dani k said...

These look great! Just wish it was easier to find different types of chilli's here

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

The Tough Cookie--Oh, I bet that will be fantastic!

TexasDeb--It depends on my mood--sometimes I put the jalapeños on before and sometimes after. There's no rhyme or reason as to why!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Diane M.--Where was your family's cafe?

Rodney--Those Alabama nachos sound perfect!


RocktheWrinkle--Yes, I agree that some things are indeed sacred!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nikki--I hope you enjoy them!

Patxck--Yes, I agree, nachos that are closer to burnt are so good!

Shana--I use the term "lazy nachos" as well.

librarianjen--It's a shame that some people just don't get it.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

idyllhands--It is very important! Thanks for helping to spread the word.

A Quiet Corner--Enjoy!

Patxck--Oh, good to know!

jas88--You should definitely try it, as it doesn't take that much longer.

Caroline--There's nothing worse than those sad, soggy chips.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Julie--Yes, they're absolutely worth it!

Pete--Proper nachos are definitely more refined.

Dani K--There are lots of places that do mail order all over the world.

Jennifer said...

Is there just one poblano in the salsa? The ingredient list seems to be missing that instruction.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Jennifer--Thank you for catching that omission! When I was updating the recipes to make them printer friendly, I reckon the poblano was left behind. In any case, it's now fixed and yes, it's one poblano.

Anonymous said...

Here, here for nachos made the correct way - all ingredients evenly distributed on each and every chip! A long gone restaurant in Dallas' Inwood Village, Casa Rosa, used to have a variety made with black bean dip (smooth mashed black beans w/ good flavor), chicken, and monterey jack cheese. Very tasty change of pace. I enjoy your blog & cook books.

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