Easy, cheesy and guaranteed to leave you queasy if you’re lactose intolerant, nachos belong in the playbook for any Super Bowl party worth its queso. Despite tracing their roots to the border city of Piedras Negras in Mexico, they are a bonafide American favorite.
As the story from 1943 goes, a group of American women who had ventured into town during the day to shop stopped at the Victory Club outside of business hours and asked the maître d’hôtel for food and drink. With no cooks in the kitchen, Ignacio Anaya tried to oblige with the ingredients that were available, and he ended up melting Colby cheese on top of fried corn tortilla chips and topping them with slices of pickled jalapeños. The women asked for seconds, and the dish ended up as a special on the restaurant’s menu named after its creator Nacho, the traditional nickname in Spanish-speaking countries for anyone named Ignacio.
It sounds like a tall tale, but the yummy yarn checks out, as the original Nacho man was honored with a Google Doodle on what would have been his 124th birthday in August of 2015. A Nacho Festival is also held every October in Piedras Negras.
Although a recipe for the three-ingredient dish first appeared in an American cookbook in 1949, nachos really took off north of the border when Texas businessman Frank Liberto introduced a variation of Anaya’s creation, made with emulsified cheese sauce, at a Texas Rangers game in 1976 and then at a Dallas Cowboys game in 1977. The ballpark-style nachos were an easy-to-eat hit, and they quickly spread to ballparks and stadiums across the country, according to The New York Times.
Whether they know the history of nachos or not, most Super Bowl party hosts will serve some combination of toppings and warm cheese on tortilla chips, as the simple combo can satisfy carnivores, vegetarians or even vegans if non-dairy cheese is used (not recommended).
South Carolinian BBQ pitmaster Rodney Scott — author of Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ and a two-time judge on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl — doesn’t really do vegetarian or vegan and, as he explains, he doesn’t even use chips for his nachos. Instead, Scott’s nacho recipe calls for pork skins, aka pork rinds, as a base.
“We decided pork skins would give a bit more girth and could hold more weight than the average nacho,” Scott tells InsideHook. “Some of them are flat and wide and some of them have that little curve. They hold whatever ingredients you put on top of them a lot better than a flat chip does. You can keep grabbing and eating without them getting weak because the thickness of the crackling allows them to last a lot longer. They don’t get soggy as quickly as regular chips.”
Given that Scott has been cooking whole-hog barbecue over wood coals since he was 11 years old, it’s totally fitting that pork serves as the base of his nachos, as well as the primary topping and garnish. “You got shredded or chopped BBQ pork on pork rinds, and there’s bacon on there, too,” Scott says. “There’s never too much pork, man. When we were building it, we felt like bacon would be a great topping on there as well. It’s bold. It’s different. Believe me, pork skin nachos are on another level. These are as rich as can be, but worth every calorie.”
Luckily for all of us, we have Scott’s recipe, sans the calorie count.
Rodney Scott's Loaded Pork Skin Nachos
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
Total Time: 25-27 minutes
Servings: Serves four to six
- 3 oz. pork rinds (1 medium bag)
- ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup shredded or chopped barbecued pork (or any other smoked meat), warmed through
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 Tbsp. crispy bacon bits
- 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Arrange the pork skins on a sheet pan large enough to hold them, and top with the cheddar and the meat.
Transfer to the oven for just long enough to melt the cheese, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven and top with the bacon bits, scallions and sour cream.
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