For The Week: Perfecting the art of sheet pan nachos

The latest recipe from BMTN food writer Lindsay Guentzel, who seeks to make life easier in the kitchen.
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A few housekeeping items to get to before I dive into this week’s topic: sheet pan nachos!

Gluten-free pizza: the follow-up

Last week, I asked for recommendations on gluten-free pizza options in Minnesota and I was blown away by the response. People actually emailed me with suggestions! My list has grown every single day since I asked for spots to check out and I can’t wait to dive in soon. I promise I will share everything with you here.

I want to thank Abbi for emailing me and pointing out that while lots of places offer gluten-free pizza, many of them are not safe for people with celiac disease. This is such an important distinction to make and I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job of clarifying in my original post. I do not have celiac disease; my body just doesn’t feel good when I eat gluten. Celiac disease is not something to take lightly and I apologize if my omission made anyone think I was dismissing it as not important.

My gluten-free pizza adventure will include significant research of celiac-safe kitchens.

Cookie recipe: a monster of a mix-up

Also a huge thank you to sweet Amanda and her daughter who so patiently reached out and asked when they were supposed to add the eggs in my Monster Cookie recipe! Yes, I – a recipe developer – shared a recipe that missed one major component. And then a stranger on the Internet sent me a very nice email asking about it in a way that was not rude or condescending and it made me think "miracles can happen!" 

I’m kidding, I know good things exist on the Internet. I just really appreciated my exchange with Amanda and I hope you and your family enjoyed the cookies, once you figured out when to add the eggs.

‘Tis the season to grill

Since you guys were such a help with pizza recommendations, I figured I would throw another topic your way. It is officially grilling season and besides making sure you are always defrosting something (time to give that Refrigerator Plate some action), I want to know what tip or trick makes you a grill master.

Next week, I’m going to compile some of the best answers I receive and I’m also going to include recommendations from some of the best grill masters I know. 

Shoot me an email at lindsay@bringmethenews.com.

The art of sheet pan nachos at home

I love sheet pan nachos. I love bellying up to a bar, grabbing a drink and diving into a spread of perfectly layered nachos. We are lucky we have great nachos and an awesome outdoor bar within walking distance of our home. But the last year has given me lots of opportunities to perfect making sheet pan nachos at home and I’m here to share everything I’ve learned with you.

They’ve become our go-to when we are hosting at our house. With more people vaccinated, I figured lots of parties will be planned over the summer months and this felt like a great recipe to share because who doesn’t love nachos!

1. Start with a good base.

The chip is so important. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Fresh is always best! But if you don’t have a Mexican market or restaurant near your house, my favorite tortilla chip brand is Donkey Chips. Besides being salty, crunchy and delicious, they are also strong so you don’t have to worry about your nachos getting soggy. They can hold all the fixings without any worry!

2. Build from the bottom and work your way up.

Layering is key! Every chip needs to be included in the nacho-building equation. Don’t just plop your toppings on a pile of chips.

Using a sheet pan to build your nachos allows you to spread out the delicious-ness. Lay out one layer of chips, sprinkle a small amount of each topping across the pan. Then add another layer of chips before adding the rest of the toppings. Yes, you’ll get chips that have more toppings on top — those are your star players! They are the chips everyone reaches for right away. But the other chips, the ones with a lighter dusting of toppings — let’s call them the bench players — those chips are just as important. They are the added crunch you need, the follow-up chip for those loaded bites.

3. Don’t take the easy road.

When it comes to nachos, this might be the most important rule yet. You. Gotta. Shred. Your. Cheese. Those bags of pre-shredded cheese? They have additives in them to stop them from clumping together. Which means they don’t melt as well! So buy a block, get out your grater and put your muscles to work.

4. Don’t skip the heat!

Fresh peppers are going to give you an immediate punch of spice. And that mellows out while they are roasting in the oven. I also love to have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on hand. The sauce is spicy but tangy, with lots of vinegar to balance out the heat. I add a couple of spoonfuls of just the sauce to the beans to gussy them up.

Have someone in your house who can’t handle heat? Sheet pan nachos are awesome because just like a pizza, you can control what portions of the pan get what toppings. Or even better, invest in some smaller pans specifically for Nacho Night and let everyone build their own chips.

5. Strengthen the spread with lots of toppings.

Nacho night is a party and every topping should be invited! Salsa, guacamole, cilantro, green onions, pickled peppers, red onion, sour cream, hot sauce.

Ingredients

To make nachos, all you need are chips and cheese. The list below is what I like on my nachos. Do I expect that your nachos will look the same as mine? I hope not. Make them how you want: Go classic or get weird. Mix things up.

  • Tortilla Chips (My pick? Donkey Chips Salted Tortilla Chips)
  • Block Cheese (Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar & Pepper Jack shredded at home)
  • Ooey-gooey Nacho Cheese Sauce (Recipe Included Below)
  • Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning (Other great options? Chicken, pork, chorizo, steak. All cooked before you add them to the nachos!)
  • Black Beans & Pinto Beans (With two generous scoops of Adobo Sauce for heat)
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Diced Jalapeños
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Minced Green Onion
  • Guacamole (I use Frontera Spicy Guacamole Mix with four avocados instead of the recommended two)
  • Salsa (We keep jarred salsa in the fridge but I love buying fresh salsa from the grocery store as a special addition to our Mexican Nights. Cub Foods makes a great spread of fresh salsas, available in the produce section. Trader Joe’s also has a great selection of salsas.)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Cover baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easier clean up.
  • Start by laying out an even layer of chips. Cover with a thin layer of ingredients (I add cilantro and green onions after the nachos come out of the oven).
  • Then add another layer of chips. Cover those chips with a thin layer of ingredients.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is perfectly melted on top.
  • Top with fresh cilantro, green onions, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Enjoy!

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Ooey-Gooey Nacho Cheese Sauce

This isn’t a necessity for Nacho Night. But it is an incredible addition! It brings me back to high school sporting events, the plastic containers of salty chips and bright orange nacho cheese served out of a giant tub. So nostalgic!

The canned nacho cheese sauce is perfectly delicious for dipping right out of the can. But it can be hard to drizzle. So you need to add a little liquid to the cheese sauce to thin it out if you want to drizzle it over the top of your sheet pan nachos.

You can use whatever tasty liquid you want. Making meat for the nachos? Add the au jus. Soup broth is also a great option! You only need a tiny bit — no more than a half cup.

Ingredients

  • One 15oz. can of nacho cheese sauce (typically found in the Hispanic or Ethnic food aisle at the grocery store)
  • ¼ to ½ cup Au Jus or Broth
  • 2 tbsp chopped green chiles (optional)

Directions

  • In large sauce pan, start to heat nacho cheese sauce. Add green chiles. Mix well.
  • Slowly add liquid. Mix well. Continue until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve hot.

Have a gluten-free recipe to share? A restaurant I just have to try?

Email me directly at Lindsay@BringMeTheNews.com or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @lindsayguentzel. 

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