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Nacho's Special


Serves 4-6

Cooks In

less than 60 minutes

A homage to Ignacio Anaya, who is said to have invented Nacho in the 1940s when hungry women came into the hotel he was working at out of kitchen hours. As there were no chefs in, he quickly put together some ingredients to make a snack: totopos topped with cheese and pickled jalapeños and threw it in the oven. The women loved it, asked for seconds calling it Nacho's Special, Nacho being a nickname for Ignacio. Our Nacho's recipe involves a little more, adding salsas, pink pickled onions, liquid cheese sauce and optional sour cream and diced avocado. But how do you make liquid cheese sauce? When most cheeses are melted the fat separates, resulting in a greasy mess, so normally flour and milk are used to bind the cheese into a sauce. However, according to Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, sodium citrate solves this problem, by acting as an emulsifying agent. Sodium citrate is sodium salt from citrus, and it preserves in addition to imparting a salty tang. To use it, you first dissolve it in a liquid (water, milk or beer…) over heat and then add grated cheese. The beauty of using sodium citrate is that you can use almost any type of cheese you like, and the flavour is undiluted by flour (unlike when you make a béchamel based cheese sauce).


Preheat the oven to 180C.

For the Pink Pickled Onions

  1. To make the pink pickled onions, blanch the sliced onions in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cold water. Put in a bowl with the cider vinegar and water mix, then add the salt and Mexican oregano, if using. Let sit for 20 minutes until shocking pink.

Cheese Sauce

  1. To make the cheese sauce, measure out the water or beer into a small saucepan, add the sodium citrate and dissolve over gentle heat. Add the grated cheese in four stages, stirring until it is all melted and the sauce is smooth, thick and glossy. Keep warm on the stove on a very low heat

The Construction

  1. To construct the dish, layer half the chips in an ovenproof pan/dish and evenly distribute half of the orange cheese sauce, salsas, jalapeños (sliced into strips), sour cream and onions. Repeat with the second layer of chips and evenly distribute the remaining cheese sauce, salsas, sour cream, jalapeños and onions.
  2. Finally, put the nachos into the oven to warm for about 5 minutes

The Garnishes

When out of the oven dot with the rest of the sour cream and scatter on the diced avocado. Serve straight away.