Secrets for Nachos?

Last night was nacho night, and they turned out pretty well–in terms of everything but the cheese. I’m batting .000 in this department. The cheese melts, of course, but it comes out of the oven mostly already solidified.

This is ironic, because my big pet peeve about nachos is dried, solid cheese. It presents in restaurants like the problem is a lack of cheese, or overcooking, or slow service. So when I make nachos at home, I’m extremely liberal with cheesing the chips, and even resort to doing two layers of chips and cheese in an effort to get some goo-iness.

I was especially stoked last night because I had bought a bag of shredded cheese advertised as a “Mexican melting cheese” ideal for quesadillas.

Another disappointment. All the toppings and dip-type things made it all tasty, but no string to the cheese, and the chips needed a fork to pry them apart. I’m NOT looking to attain the fluidity of Cheese Whiz or the disgusting minimart pump product.

So help me out here? Is it just a matter of picking the right cheese, temperature and time?

Have you tried using “Velveeta”??
I imagine you could add spices, chopped jalapenos or habaneros to kick it up a notch (if you wanted it more spicy)??

Thanks. I have the spice thing dialed. I’m trying to avoid processed “cheese foods” if I can.

Shredded jack cheese gets that’s stringy consistency if you’re looking for that. I can get down with that. Have fun.

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Agree this sounds like finding the right stretchy cheese.

“Mexican” cheese blend is usually Jack and a few others.

For pull your probably want some shredded mozzarella like for pizza with others for flavor. Oaxaca is now available shredded too and is similar in stretch when hot, but doesn’t stay that way very long. So maybe a mixture.

That said, I find that cheese congeals much faster than it takes to eat nachos, and the chips always stick unless they’re laid out in a single layer. So if cheese stretch and non-conjoined chips are the goals, maybe prepping multiple smaller servings is the solution.

Please don’t buy “shredded” any kind of cheese. They have to add a powder coating of some kind to prevent clumping but it also prevents goodness.

Grate your own jack, pepper jack, Colby jack, cheddar or whatever suits you.

Lay your tortilla chips on a baking sheet in a single layer. (If you want the pile of chips with gooey melty, then as noted above velveeta or clone is your choice.)

Put the pan under a high oven or low broil and keep an eye on them. Won’t take long.

I do mine this way, but with a schmear of refried beans, then cheese, then maybe some leftover fajitas, chicken, shredded pork, etc, then jalapeño, serrano, then into the oven.

When cheese is melted, remove from oven, and add shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, avocado. Whatever suits your fancy.

Anyway, to answer your question, high heat, single layer.

Let’s eat!!

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This is key. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt correctly and will always seem dry and clumpy.

As for nachos, I prefer to use a variation on the blend I use for pizza to ensure meltiness. Half pepper jack, the other half equal parts cheddar, fontina and whole milk mozzarella (not fresh mozz). Fontina and jack lend creaminess, mozz gives some stringy pull, and cheddar brings flavor and that hint of greasiness that makes nachos nachos. :wink:

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My nachos tend to burn before the cheese melts. So now I make my nacho dish with cheese and add the chips last minute
(Dish is ground meat, fried with garlic, chili, paprika powder, maybe cumin, then in bowl, topped with tomatoes & sweet corn. Cheese on top)

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That’s like super deluxe nachos!

If you buy pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend pay close attention to the package. I bought one by mistake that had taco seasoning in it. Ick.

Definitely agree with shredding your own cheese because of the cellulose dusting on pre-shredded.

I normally use a pre-melt pour over for Nachos. I melt freshly shredded Monterey Jack with a minority of cheddar or whatever other bricks I’ve got on hand, plus I add a bit of milk in it. I’ve never measured, so I’m guessing about 8 or 9 parts cheese to 2 or 1 parts milk. And a couple of heavy pinches of salt. I think the milk helps keep it from solidifying too readily and the salt - well, I just like salt. :slight_smile:

Then I spice it however (as you mention, you’ve already got the spice in hand).

So - try a bit of milk to loosen it. (Edit - if you’re okay with the pre-melt/pour-over style, I mean.)

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Quoting myself to add photo of my last batch. Refried beans, chicken, cheese lettuce, tomato, avocado and homemade salsa.

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It’s been mentioned, but bears repeating, don’t buy shredded cheese; grate it yourself. Cheese that’s sold already grated has added ingredients (usually cornstarch) to prevent clumping. This means that it won’t melt well.

Also, are you letting your cheese come to room temperature before you add it to your nachos? Cold cheese won’t melt properly.

Use mozzarella.

I’ve never tried lettuces on nachos. Cilantro maybe, if I’m feeling fancy.

Is that an old Guardian Ware platter you’re using?

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Sure, whatever works. Do you then broil or bake again, after pouring?

Good eye.

Regarding lettuce, those are “Dinner Nachos”. :wink:

I usually don’t bake after topping. Once I get the cheese pretty much prepared (melted and spiced up), I briefly bake the chips single layer on a large sheet along with any meats if I’m using any, like shredded chicken or browned hamburger, then just top with the cheese and some tomato chunks and then smoosh into whatever serving platter I’m using.

Mine are no where near as good looking as @NotDoobieWah’s.

If the cheese is solid and firm at room temp, then likely even if you get it melty/stringy, it will harden again before you’ve eaten 1/2 your nachos. So perhaps start with something like a mornay or what you’d put on mac for mac and cheese if you want to maintain that gooey texture once it approaches room temp.

I’m not hoping for perpetually stringy or liquid cheese. I’d be happy with 5-10 minutes out of the oven.

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