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Really Cool Chile Nachos


Serves 2

Cooks In

less than 60 minutes

A perfect plate of nachos is made up of layers of homemade corn chips, evenly dotted with blobs of spicy salsa and cooling sour cream, all held together with ‘that’ creamy, orange cheese sauce. But how do you make ‘that’ orange 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 Chips

  1. To make the chips, brush each side of the tortillas with a little of the oil. Stack on top of each other and cut the stack in half, then cut each half into thirds so you end up with 48 triangles. Arrange in a single layer on two baking racks and bake for 10 minutes until just golden and crisp.

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 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.

For the Orange 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 a 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 oven proof pan/dish and evenly distribute half of the orange cheese sauce, salsas, jalapeños, sour cream and onions. Repeat with a 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.