04/07/13 - The World's Greatest Nachos

Normally, I'm not one to brag but this next recipe needs to be shared with the world.  And, unfortunately, I cannot credit myself with its single-handed creation.  This was a meeting of minds, carefully honed over two years, and the dish for which myself and my two gorgeous housemates - Charlie and Emma - became infamous.  I give you...drum roll please...the Heathcote Street Nachos.

While this dish is far from healthy, it's so quick and easy that I don't even care.  It's a perfect sharing meal if you're having people over or just want something simple to munch on in front of the TV.  The portion sizes can be easily adapted to suit your needs and tastes; you will see very shortly that much of this 'recipe' is a very inexact science.

For this recipe, you will need:
Tortilla chips - you can use whatever flavour you like, I tend to go for salted;
Sour cream and chive dip;
Tomato salsa - it's up to you how spicy you go.  Personally, I'm a wuss and went for mild;
A big old lump of cheese, grated.

A casserole dish type affair, or any deep oven-proof bowl.

You should probably pre-heat your oven as well, but I couldn't tell you what gas mark or temperature it should be.  Is 'middle-ish' a valid instruction?  It's best to use the oven to start with and maybe finish it off under the grill to crisp up the top if you think it needs it.

The number of layers you can form entirely depends on the depth of your dish.  The one we used to use at uni could make three layers from the ingredients pictured above but honestly, I wish I'd bought more for this dish.  It was a bit bigger than I expected so I ended up with two thinner layers than I'm used to.   

The preparation is easy: cover the bottom of your dish with a layer of tortilla chips, top with (in this case) half of each of the tubs of dip and cover with cheese.  While we convinced ourselves that there was a specific order in which to apply the dips for optimum enjoyment, it really doesn't matter (sour cream, guacamole, salsa for anyone wondering).  Make sure everything is as evenly spread as you can get it, and then repeat as many times as you can.

Once you've used up all your ingredients and/or filled your dish, whack it all in the oven and wait.  Keep checking on it; a combination of the size of the dish and the heat of your oven can make your cooking time anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour.  Our university oven was utterly awful with a door that didn't properly close and all the writing rubbed off the dials.  We had to cook everything on the highest heat possible or it would never be finished.  For this reason, the time and temperature of this is very much a case of trial and error.

When it's done, pop it in the centre of the table with a big serving spoon and dig in!  The layered effect mean that - unlike nachos you might get at a pub or restaurant - this isn't a case of a dry patch underneath piles of toppings that totally soak one or two crisps.  Everything mixes and melts together, the flavours from all the dips really come through and it's just a really tasty meal or  snack.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of these nachos; they're simple to make, delicious to enjoy, and they'll always remind me of the fantastic times I had in my university house with my favourite people.  It's great for informal entertaining and best of all, it comes in at less than a fiver for all the ingredients - perfect for a student budget.

Do you have any special recipes that remind you of a certain time or certain people?

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