Distrito Nachos & A Blogaversary

Distrito Nachos

Guys!  It’s my 3-year blogaversary!

Yes, yes, yes, I can hardly believe it, but three years ago today, I started this little bloggity blog as a creative outlet for my writing, food photography, and enthusiasm for food.  My first post was (DUH) a nachos recipe inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers, Pinch of Yum.  Go check it out here ? Pinch of Yum Nachos!!

So today, I thought I’d share with you my latest recipe for nachos, inspired by one of my favorite restaurants, Distrito!  If you ever make it to Philadelphia, or if you live in Philadelphia, you must go to Distrito at some point and enjoy all the delicious food on the menu.  (Other than the nachos, go for the fish tacos, and I recently have fallen in love with the vegetarian enchiladas!  I might try to make those next!)

Back to my nachos.  If you’ve followed me anywhere at all, you know my love for nachos.  And if you’ve been following along on my blog here, you know that my nachos are sometimes a labor of love.  I have a spot in my heart for the fastest nachos possible – a delicious canned cheese sauce, warmed until piping hot, drizzled over salty chips, topped with spicy pickled jalapenos and other fresh, chilled, crunchy toppings.  But, I also have a deep love for those nachos that require more effort.  They are so much more rewarding to me.  Especially when I am trying to copycat some of my favorite restaurant nachos.

It took me a couple years, actually, to master these nachos, and that’s only because I was stumped by two ingredients – the chile de arbol sauce, and the fresh baby watercress that usually blankets the nachos at the restaurant.  I finally nailed the sauce, and have decided to give up on the watercress, because I simply cannot find it anywhere.  And I dare not substitute with cilantro, because cilantro has a distinctive flavor that would have changed this entire dish.  So, these nachos are graced with no greens on top!  And I’m okay with that.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe below – by the ingredients list or the process.  If you don’t feel like spending an hour in the kitchen to make nachos that will be gone in 10 minutes (and I don’t blame you), no biggie – I have pointed out places along the way where you can do something ahead of time so that all you really need to do is assemble and eat.  You’re welcome.  ?

Distrito Nachos

1 bag tortilla chips (I recommend Tostitos Cantina chips)

Chile de Arbol Sauce:
1 lb Roma tomatoes
4 chile de arbol peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Handful of cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups shredded chihuahua cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

2 poblano peppers, cut into bite-size strips
1 yellow onion, cut into bite-sized strips
Cooking spray

2 radishes, cut into matchsticks
1 can black beans, warmed on the stove
Pickled jalapenos
Mexican crema or sour cream
2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1. Make Chile de Arbol Sauce: Place tomatoes on a baking sheet. Heat your broiler to high, and broil tomatoes until the skins are nicely charred. Set aside.
Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat, and toast the chilies, turning frequently, until charred. Set aside.
Add olive oil, garlic, and onion to a saucepan. Heat to medium heat. Add the tomatoes and chilies, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour tomato mixture into a blender. Add the handful of cilantro, and salt and pepper, and blend until pureed. Pour through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid in a bowl. Set aside.
(NOTE: You can do all of this up to two days ahead of time! You will not use all the sauce for this nachos recipe, but the leftovers freeze really well, and will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. I have used this leftover sauce to make tacos and as a taco sauce. It can be spicy, but I have found that 4 chile de arbol chilies gives it a medium heat. If you are sensitive to spicy, use less chilies.)

2. Prep All The Things: While the chile de arbol sauce is working, shred your cheeses, and add all cheeses to a bowl and toss to combine evenly. Set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. (NOTE: You can do this ahead of time!)
Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray. Heat to medium heat, and add the poblano peppers and yellow onions. Cook until poblanos are softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. When finished, turn off skillet and set aside.
While the peppers and onions are working, cut your radishes into matchsticks. Cut very thin slices, then stack the slices and cut into small, thin sticks. Set aside. (NOTE: You can do this ahead of time!)
Warm a can of black beans on the stovetop over low heat.
Dice two Roma tomatoes, and set aside. (NOTE: You can do this ahead of time!)

3. Assemble! Pour a layer of tortilla chips onto a baking sheet. Preheat broiler to high. Scatter about half the cheese mixture over all the chips. Then, using a slotted spoon, add the warmed black beans on top of the cheese. Next, add the poblanos and onions. Then add the rest of the cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese melts. (You can do this in two phases if you want – once after adding the first layer of cheese, and again after adding the beans, veggies, and second layer of cheese.) Once the cheese is melted, remove the baking sheet and finish with the rest of the toppings. Pickled jalapenos, matchstick radishes, lots of glorious crema drizzle, the chile de arbol sauce, and the diced Roma tomatoes. Then, promptly devour!!