I’m sorry, guys. I just couldn’t help myself. I had to make heart-shaped chips and top them with deliciousness for Valentine’s Day.
To be completely honest, I wanted to take this recipe one hardcore step further and actually use braised beef heart for the topping, but Betsy absolutely hates beef heart and what kind of husband would I be to reject my wife’s nacho wishes?
It would just be too devastating for her to see wonderful nachos but know that I made them with her least favorite food for the purposes of a blog post.
So I used flank steak which is mighty delicious.
The hearts are cute I think, but probably unnecessary. Unless you are trying to win some karma points or get yourself out of the dog house in which case heart chips might be the thing for you!
For chips: Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer with a thermometer to 350 degrees F. Use a cookie cutter to cut chips out of corn tortillas (or just slice them into wedges – 6 wedges per tortilla). Fry chips in batches until they are golden brown and no longer bubbling, about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove chips with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl lined with some paper towels. Season while warm with kosher salt.
For carne Asada:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Drizzle flank steak with olive oil and season well with the spice mix. You can use it liberally to cover the steak, but you may not need all of it.
2) Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add flank steak and sear for 4 minutes per side. Then transfer to oven and roast for 5-6 minutes until the steak reaches 135 degrees F. in the thickest part. It’s okay if it’s undercooked slightly since it will bake again on the nachos.
3) Let steak rest for 10 minutes and then chop into small chunks.
4) In a medium bowl, stir together flank steak, drained black beans, chopped red onions, tomatillo salsa, lime juice, and cumin.
To Make Nachos:
1) Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread chips out in an even layer on a baking sheet. Top chips generously with the carne asada mixture. The mixture should be enough to feed four so if you are just making it for two, you might have some leftover.
2) Sprinkle nachos with grated Monterey jack cheese and crumbled cotija cheese. Bake the nachos until the cheese is just melted, 4-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it so the cheese doesn’t overbake and become hard.
3) Remove nachos and serve with any and all toppings of your choice!
Let me make the case for why you should fry your own chips for this recipe:
1) Valentine’s day is on a Saturday. If you’re skipping the restaurant scene and cooking something at home, go all the way. Don’t half-ass it, people.
2) When I ran tortilla chips through the homemade trials, it became clear when you should take the time to make your own chips. Special occasions is one of those times.
3) This is a sturdy nacho dish. The toppings are no joke and if you use flimsy store-bought chips, you’ll end up with mostly soggy chips. It’ll still taste good, but you’ll be disappointed with the chips.
If you want to get cutesy, use a little cookie cutter to cut out some shapes. I used a heart one for obvious reasons. The one down side of this (it isn’t actually that time intensive) is that you do waste some of the tortilla so you need more tortillas to get a good number of chips.
However you decide to go, heat about two quarts of oil in a large pot (please use a deep fry thermometer) to 350 degrees F. Then add in your tortillas in batches and fry them until they are golden brown. This should take 3-4 minutes but basically when the chips stop bubbling, they are done.
Drain the chips and toss them in a bowl with some paper towels. Season them right away with salt.
These are big boy nachos for sure. The toppings start with a flank steak (about a pound). Mix together the seasoning rub and rub it all over the flank steak. Drizzle the steak with a little olive oil also. If you have the time, it would be best to do this a few hours in advance.
Then heat a cast iron skillet (or you could use a grill pan – or an actual grill if you want to brave the cold) over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, toss in the steak and let it sear for 4 minutes per side.
Then transfer the steak to a 350 degrees F. to finish cooking for a 4-5 minutes. Ideally, the steak should be 135 degrees F. in the thickest part but it’s okay if it’s undercooked a bit since you are going to bake it a second time on the nachos.
When the steak is done, let it rest for 10 minutes or so and then dice it up. My steak ended up a nice medium-rare and would’ve been delicious just like this!
When your steak is diced, stir it together with the drained and rinsed black beans, red onion, lime juice, tomatillo salsa, and cumin seeds. This is ready to go!
When you’re ready to make some nachos, spread out enough chips for however many people you are feeding. For two people, I find that spreading chips out in a single layer over most of a 9×13 baking sheet will be plenty of food.
Top the chips with plenty of the carne asada mixture and then sprinkle on grated Monterey Jack cheese and crumbled cotija cheese.
Pop that whole thing in a 400 degree F. oven for 5-6 minutes until the cheese is just melted and stringy.
Then serve these up with all the toppings.
It’ll be love at first bite.