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Paul Mercurio’s Nachos Extraordinaire

October 2, 2015
Paul Mercurio

Paul Mercurio

Some say love is in the air (how many times have I heard that?) but I say spring is in the air. Only by a bit, but the sun does seem a little warmer and that icy wind now has some dulcet tones which encourages one to clean up the backyard and get the barbie ready for party central.

Okay, so you may still be wearing a light vest whilst out the back but I am sure your thoughts, like mine, are turning to slightly lighter styles of beer after winter’s reign of stouts and porters. Food-wise it is a little too early for seafood salad, jelly shots and pilsner – it’s more like good old pale ale or perhaps an amber or hefeweizen and something hearty but with a lighter side.

That said, dammit! Go for a pils, celebrate the arrival of spring and with it I say have some nacho. Not just any nachos though, you deserve my Nachos Extraodinaire for a perfect early Spring afternoon lunch.

Back in the old days when I was a student at the Australian Ballet School I used to work at the local Mexican fast-food restaurant and the trick to good nachos, I discovered, was to set the corn chips in the beans so they stood up like cathedrals, allowing the toppings to fall in between and give you a lovely taste surprise with each mouthful.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than flat, soggy nachos with all the cheese on top and nothing underneath! So take the time to make corn chip cathedrals and people will think you’re a genius!

Recipe and image from Kitchen Mojo by Paul Mercurio, published by Murdoch Books

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 fresh jalapeño chilli, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
150 g (5½ oz) minced (ground) pork
150 g (5½ oz) lean minced (ground) beef
2 tablespoons store-bought black bean and chipotle salsa
2 tablespoons store-bought roasted tomatillo salsa
6 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño chillies
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tin (220 g/7¾ oz) Mexican refried beans
1 tin (420 g/15 oz) Mexican pinto beans or kidney beans
1 large packet good quality plain or lightly salted corn chips
150 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 large avocado, roughly mashed
125 g (4½ oz/½ cup) sour cream

Recipe and image from Kitchen Mojo by Paul Mercurio, published by Murdoch Books

Recipe and image from Kitchen Mojo by Paul Mercurio, published by Murdoch Books

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (fan-forced 180°/350°F).
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and fresh jalapeño and cook until the onion is translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the cumin, Mexican chilli powder and paprika, and fry until fragrant and well combined with the onion.
Increase the heat to high and add the pork and beef. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat and mix well, then continue to cook until the meat is evenly browned. Next, add the tomato, chipotle salsa, tomatillo salsa and 2 tablespoons of the chopped jalapeños, reduce the heat to medium and cook for several minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as required. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Spread the refried beans over the bottom of an ovenproof casserole dish, about 1 cm (½ in) thick. Spread about a third of the pinto beans on top of the refried beans, then place your corn chips, upright, into the bean mix (yes, I do it one by one—you may think I’m mad—but the results are worth it!). Sprinkle the rest of the Mexican beans over the top, followed by 2 tablespoons of the chopped jalapeños, then the meat mixture—making sure it falls down the crevices. Sprinkle the remaining chopped jalapeños over the meat, then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and begins to colour. Put the mashed avocado over one side of the nachos and the sour cream on the other and dig in.

Feeds 4–6


6 Responses to Paul Mercurio’s Nachos Extraordinaire

  1. Sims on October 19, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Corn chip??? Ew no. I live in Southern California where Mexican food is well-known. They’re TORTILLA CHIPS, not corn chips. Stop it. If you’re going to do a food that isn’t from your country then use the right words.

    • Paul on October 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Hey Sims , you are absolutely correct in the States and Mexico they use Tortilla chips. In Australia however tortilla chips are not easy to get at all – in fact I have rarely seen them and have considered making my own.

      In Australia corn chips of various varieties are easily available everywhere and that is what we use – some people even use cheese Doritos!!

      In Australia we have grown up with those chain Mexican restaurants that no self respecting Mexican would ever step foot in – in fact I worked in one for a while. It’s all Tex Mex and all corn chips so sadly that’s how we do it here.

      Needless to say my recipe as is is delicious but no doubt would be better with tortlla’s


      • Paul on October 19, 2015 at 5:32 pm

        Tortilla chips that is!

  2. ben barren on October 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    beyond superb making me hungry…..

    • Bob Mercurio on October 3, 2015 at 2:39 am

      Can’t wait to try it but for some of us, it’s getting cooler

      • Paul on October 5, 2015 at 10:13 am

        Hey Bob – being that it has chili on it (which you could make with added chili to make it hotter)it works as a cooler weather dish too! I would have this with a good Amber Ale or Porter in the cooler months and pale or Pils in the warmer!

        ps wonder if we are related?? where you from?

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