The best way to make nachos, according to a golf-club chef

Our golf-club chef believes in six key factors for serving great nachos.

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With the NFL season kicked off, we call your attention to Ignacio Anaya Garcia, an unheralded hero of the game.

But not a sleeper pick for your fantasy league.

Anaya Garcia, whose friends knew him as ‘Nacho,’ never played a gridiron down. His peak football-related moment came off the field, in the early 1940s, while working as a chef in the Mexico-Texas border town of Piedras Negras, when he invented a dish that bore his nickname and has long since become a game-day staple.

Maybe you’ll be whipping up some nachos this weekend.

Jonathan Moosmiller certainly will.

Moosmiller is the executive director of food and beverage at Shangri-La Resort, in Oklahoma, where he and his staff offer three distinct nacho variations at three different resort venues. One iteration stars smoked brisket. Another features thick-cut potato chips, peppered bacon and beer cheese sauce (Moosmiller calls this version ‘Irish Nachos’). The third brings together such classical components as grilled steak and chicken, pico de gallo, and roasted corn.

“You can never have too many options when it comes to nachos,” Moosmiller says.

Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t have rough nacho-making guidelines.

Here’s his 6-point playbook for preparing them at home:

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1. Size matters. Freshness, too.

Not too big. Not too small. And not store-bought, either. Any preparation worth its salt starts with “fresh fried tortilla chips,” Moosmiller says. “Not that cold stuff from the store.” Make them “medium size,” he notes. “Ideally, they have to be able to fit in everyone’s mouth.” 

2. Don’t overload them

Nachos without toppings are just tortilla chips. So feel free to pile on, provided you stay within practical limits. If you add “too many things,” Moosmiller says, “the toppings fall off and make a big mess. And you end up eating nothing but the naked chip.”

3. Say cheese

Another rule of nacho-making is that there are no rules. At least when it comes to ingredients. Anything goes. “The possibilities are endless,” Moosmiller says. “People like what they like. I never say ‘never.’” But he does say ‘always.’ As in always use cheese. “They’re not nachos without it.” Moosmiller’s preference is chile con queso, commonly referred to as queso, a combo of melted cheese and chili peppers, which pours easily and spreads more readily than shredded cheese.

4. Cook accordingly

As McDonald’s once said of the McDLT, the hot stays hot, and the cool stays cool. Nachos should be prepared in phases, with each ingredient brought to the temperature that suits it. Which means that some items — like, say, avocados and tomatoes — don’t get cooked at all. “Anything cold should be added after everything else is added and comes out of the oven,” Moosmiller says. “The mix of hot and cold toppings is one of the things that makes the taste of nachos unique.”

5. Spread the love

If you assemble nachos in a towering pile, the chips at the bottom won’t get touched by toppings. Spread them out, and you’ll get better coverage. Not that every chip needs to be buried in an avalanche of additions. “There will always be a few chips left out of the toppings,” Moosmiller says. “Those naked chips have an important purpose, though. That’s what you use to scrap up all the ingredients that fall off the other chips while you’re making a mess. You don’t want to leave anything uneaten.”

6. Serve them smartly

Nachos for a crowd can be messy and unmanageable if you don’t present them strategically. “Be sure to have a proper set up,” Moosemiller says. “If you’re serving family-style, for example, make sure everyone has a plate and proper utensils to serve themselves.” Better yet, he says, “Perhaps you should serve them. You may have a mess, but make it your mess.”

Josh Sens Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.