Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nachos Smoked With Bourbon Soaked Hickory Chips Baron Style

Soaking wood chips in bourbon
Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying  "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another". Today was one of those days for me, a defining moment, waking dream this very morning, my epiphany: Nachos smoked with Bourbon Soaked Hickory Chips. What, how, or why it came to mind still eludes me but I am so glad that angel whispered in my ear "you can do it", and so I did.

We have all made nachos, we have all said they were good, but have you truly said these are to die for? I have been composing this recipe for a long time working on what I can call My Nachos. There was always something missing I could never put my finger on. Of course I have used bourbon for a long time in my cooking and yes I have soaked wood chips before but not this way and not in this combination and not with nachos. My inspiration has been the raging 40C + temps over the last coupe of days and my lack of willingness to fire up the oven indoors which would kill all the hard work the air con has achieved. What's the next best thing to an indoor oven? An outdoor oven. And what can you do in an outdoor oven? Smoke stuff!

Before I you begin there is the bourbon of choice. What do you like vs what are you looking for. Wild Turkey 101 has been my bourbon of choice for a long time when cooking though in this case I only had the standard Wild Turkey opened and I am sure anything stronger would be too much. What makes this post so relevant is in fact what has happened to the bourbon after cooking. An absolute explosion of flavour on the pallet once sipping this whisky while sampling the food. This is Wild Turkey's time to shine. There is a massive amount of caramel, corn, heat, sweetness and bitterness let along the smoke introduced by the food.

I cannot say if using a noter bourbon will do the same thing. For now I am willing to settle and bask in all it's glory. What is important is that I share with you this recipe and let you experience it for yourself.

Now don't get all purist on me here and say "that's not nachos" or "you have no idea about nachos", quite frankly my dear I don't give a dram. This is nachos Baron style. KAPOW!


• Corn chips natural and no salt
• Pork mince 300 grams
• Beef Stock 200ml
• 1 packet of dried nachos / burrito powder (no need to be a purist, powder is good enough)
• 1 Brown onion small and diced
• 1 Chilli fresh and crushed
• 1 Clove garlic fresh and crushed
• 1 Corn on cob fresh with kernels removed and loose
• 1 Tin kidney beans drained and washed 300 grams
• 1 Lemon ready to squeeze
• Salsa from a bottle (need the intensity)
• Fresh Coriander
• Kalamata Olives remove seed and slice in half (don't use garbage olives in a jar already deseeded)
• Mozzarella Cheese (my preference)
• Tequila 1 shot
• Bourbon 3 shots (Wild Turkey recommended)
• 1 Cold beer to dink while preparing

Other requirements
• 1 Corningware backing dish large enough for meal
• 1 BBQ with hood
• Wire rack to sit baking bowl off the direct heat from grill or hotplate
• Hickory smoking chips

Serve with
• Wedges of lemon
• Sour cream
• Guacamole freshly made
• Bourbon as table whisky

Step 1. Soak hickory wood chips with 2 shots of bourbon and top up with ample water. You do not need a lot of chips for this as the nachos do not need long to cook an so not a lot of water is need either. If you want to use just bourbon feel free but it can get expensive.

Step 2. Preheat BBQ to 250C degrees. Get this mother hot.

Step 3. Fry diced onion until translucent, add garlic and chilli and continue to fry until soft and palatable.

Step 4. Add mince to onion/garlic/chilli mix and continue to cook. Do not over cook because pork is a white meat and it won't brown.

Step 5. Add corn and beans and stir in dry packet mix of nachos/chilli powder. Once stirred add 200ml of beef stock, squeeze of lemon, 1shot of bourbon and one shot of tequila. Bring to simmer and reduce until almost dry (stir constantly and do not burn).

Note: At this stage it is an idea to get the smoking chips into the BBQ to start heating up and effectively start smoking. As it smokes the smell of bourbon and hickory will fill the air. So good.

Step 6. Add corn chips to corningware baking bowl and try to stand as many up as possible. Getting the sauce and cheese as deep as possible is imperative.

Step 7. Spoon cooked sauce over chips. Don't add it all if you don't need to as a portion is best kept for the next day served with rice and a cold beer.

Step 8. Place grated cheese over nachos sauce but keep towards centre. You need the smoke to permeate the nachos and the heat crisp the chips. Coating the whole dish will make it soggy and boring. Spoon over the cheese sparingly some of the salsa. Over the salsa sprinkle the kalamata olives and coriander. Now you are ready to bake.

Prepared dish ready for baking
Step 9. Place backing bowl with nachos contained into the BBQ on a wire rack. You don't want to crack the bowl. DO NOT PLACE BOWL OVER OPEN FLAME. Close the hood and keep watch on the nachos. Remove from BBQ when cheese is melted and corn chip tips are starting to blacken. Sip cold beer.
Baking dish on rack in BBQ next to smoker
Note: While the nachos is backing get the table ready with plates, forks, tongs for serving, cold drinks and of course the bourbon and whisky glasses.

Step 10. Eat nachos, experience the intense smokey taste and sip bourbon. BANG! Oh my the bourbon is so intensified it is unbelievable. I was almost tempted to add ice to cool down the flavour it was so intense.

Final result ready for consumption. Dram it was good!
In the end there is no other words to explain this apart from extraordinary. If I was to give a dram then it would be 7 out of 7. Is it the smoke, is it the bourbon, is it the corn, is it baking or is it just that right combination. Remember The Baron when you make this.

The Baron