Halftime Nachos

1-IMG_4004Super Bowls: I watch the commercials; I tend to cooking chores or refill my plate during the actual game. Halftime gets my undivided attention if done well, and Bruno Mars did it well last Sunday. That’s about the time these nachos were ready to eat, so I had the best of all worlds: good food, a comfy chair, and entertainment worth watching. Icing on the cake was having an episode of “Downton Abbey” air on PBS right at game’s end. It was awfully nice of those football players to cooperate with the PBS broadcast schedule.

This is not one of those recipes with measurements. If you like an ingredient, use more of it. If you don’t, then leave it off.

Halftime Nachos, adapted over a lot of years of eating nachos.

Tortilla chips, preferably the sturdy kind that won’t shatter under the weight of refried beans and taco meat. For this purpose, I like the On The Border brand.

1 16-ounce can vegetarian refried beans, vegetarian meaning no lard. (This, despite the fact that I have a tub of lard in my pantry right this very minute, purchased a couple of weeks ago for the first time ever so that I could try a recipe for an English teatime treat called Fat Rascals. Didn’t like them much.)

2 pounds of ground beef (round, sirloin, or buffalo), cooked with taco seasoning according to package directions. My favorite seasoning blend is made by Penzeys Spices of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Unless you are feeding an army, you won’t need all 2 pounds of beef for the nachos. I prepare extra meat so that I can make more nachos or quesadillas or tostadas the next night to use up all the leftover sides.

Chopped, seeded fresh jalapeños

Mix of grated Monterrey Jack cheese and grated cheddar cheese (Don’t use the pre-grated stuff, grate your own.)

Grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in fourths

Half a head of iceberg lettuce, sliced into shreds

Sour cream

Chopped avocado

Cheese dip (My current favorite ratio: 1 pound regular Velveeta® to most of a can of Original Ro*tel® diced tomatoes and green chilies plus 4 ounces [half a block, eyeball it] cream cheese, melted together in the microwave, then seasoned with liberal amounts of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and maybe a little cayenne.)

Salsa (Make it yourself, or buy a decent brand.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, or lightly coat the pan with non-stick spray. Cover the bottom of the pan with tortilla chips. Some chip overlap is good; over-piling is overkill. You want a decent amount of meat and beans to come in contact with most of the chips, which is not possible if they’re stacked like tiles.

Dollop the refried beans right out of the can in small spoonfuls over the chips. Strew the cooked, seasoned taco meat over the beans. (Remember, reserve some of the meat to use for the next day’s dinner.) Rearrange chips as necessary to make sure they all get a dose of beans and meat.

Sprinkle chopped jalapeños over all, then top with a layer of grated cheese, which will meld everything together after baking.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the nachos are hot and sizzling. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Have ready ample amounts of chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, diced avocado, warm cheese dip, and salsa, so that everyone can garnish their own servings to taste.

Is there a football game on TV? Who cares?

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