climbing nacho mountain
I'm not a great cook. I can cook things, and they are usually delicious, but to call me a great cook would do a disservice to all the beautiful men and women who are actually, truly, great cooks. A great cook can cook a steak without somehow transforming it into boot rubber. A great cook can create a salad. A great cook can make pizza dough! Those are things a great cook can do, and by my own logic, I am not a great cook. The things I create are shivering masses of oil and cheese and quick, satisfying death, designed to be made in ten to fifteen minutes with a minimum of ingredients or preparation. They are atom bombs of calories, designed to fall from on high and level what was left of your diet.
I am not a great cook.
With that in mind, I now present to you probably the single most decadent thing I regularly cook, a meal so messy and guilt-inducing I eat nothing but toast for breakfast and toast for dinner the next day to atone for my sins. On the Molly Food Pyramid - the very same pyramid that lists pepperoni pizza as a food group - it occupies the top, tiny triangle; the sometimes food. It is a masterpiece of gastronomical horror, and now I'm going to pass on its birthing to you, because I no longer feel I can shoulder this burden alone. Presenting to you:
The Nacho Mountain.
Chili: Like most of the things I cook, the Nacho Mountain is chili-based, because chili and bolognaise are the only two things I can consistently cook that qualify as people food. That said, a true Nacho Mountain only reaches for home-cooked, healthy chilis when left with no other option. I instead recommend any version of Stagg Chili you can find except the quote-unquote lean version because it is awful. It usually comes in a 425g can, with a handy ring-pull because putting any more barriers between a woman and her canned, precooked chili than necessary would be cruel.
Chips: I like corn chips, and if you don't I suggest you find some other Nacho Mountain recipe to recreate. I favour Doritos, in either Nacho Cheese or Mexican flavours, but you can use whatever, as long as the chips aren't plain. This is only partly because you want to inject a little oomph into your finished disaster; the true genius in buying a flavoured corn chip is that when the plate inevitably becomes too full to hold any more corn chips, you can eat whatever is left later - and in such circumstances you don't want to be left with a boring, plain corn chip. I tend to eat the leftovers whilst waiting for the nachos to cook (it is a very long two to three minutes) but you can eat them whenever. I don't really have an opinion on when you should eat leftover corn chips.
Cheese: Okay, so when I make grownup nachos (in an oven and everything), I use mozzarella, because it browns and gets chewy and takes on a little flavour from the chili beneath it, and you may be tempted to think this is the case with the Nacho Mountain - you would be wrong. You would be so wrong that they would write sonnets about your wrongness. What you want is a very sharp, grated cheddar (like ‘tasty' cheese), because the goal in this instance is not to brown, but to liquefy. We are aiming for a consistency not unlike jelly, but with more flavour and less dead cow. In the microwave it has absolutely no time to brown or take on flavour, so mozzarella is wasted here. Go for the gooey, cheap cheddar, and you will not be disappointed.
Sour cream: Any sour cream is fine, but you can use cottage cheese if you're feeling extra fancy (and are the kind of enlightened individual to appreciate the true grandeur of cottage cheese). I tend to buy low-fat versions, which I know is against the spirit of the Nacho Mountain, but seriously, at some point we have to pretend we're not total animals. All sour cream tastes the same anyway.
Preparation and Cooking
Preparation is simple. Take your microwave-safe plate, and put it on the bench in front of you. If it has a chip in it, face the chipped side away from you, because it is watching you, and judging, and as you construct the Nacho Mountain it is going to find you wanting. Open your bag of corn chips, eat two or three for quality control, and then place as many as you think you can safely fit onto the plate. Aim for two layers of chips, for maximum Nacho Mountain-ness.
Next, spoon your chili over the chips; if you are doing things correctly - with canned food - you should use the whole can. If not just use like, a lot of chili. At some point you're gonna look at the Nacho Mountain and think that there is too much chili and you will be wrong. Silence your doubts. Finally, coat the whole thing in cheese. Seriously, go nuts. If you really like cheese use more, if you don't, get out.
Preparation over, it's now time to cook! Put it in the microwave, and dial in maybe like two and a half minutes or so. Allow time for how powerful or weak your microwave is (mine is not particularly inspiring). Maybe eat some chips while you wait. Sometimes I feed my cat. Mix it up!
When it is done cooking heap two big spoonfuls of your spoiled milk byproduct of choice on it and you are done. Congratulations, you have created a Nacho Mountain!
You should now be looking at a mass of meat and chips and cheese, steaming slightly in the warm Summer air. It may seem wrong to you, malevolent even. Do not be afraid of the Unholy Abomination which you have created, for you have already defied all laws of man and God in its creation and you cannot turn back now. Reach into it, with your bare hands, and begin to feast.