No. 77: Loaded Nachos & Viva Las Vegas

Sorry to have been away! We were in Las Vegas this week for the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament.

Correction: Mr. McCormick and our buddy Pete were there for the tourney. I watched a bit of basketball, but had other goals for the week (see below).

Oh, Vegas. How fascinating you are. How special. And yet you never change, not one bit.

But you can be beautiful too.

Desert moon

This was our desert moon view from the MGM Signature Tower.

Vegas for Foodies

These days, my ideal version of a weekend in Las Vegas includes pool time, a Cirque show and few great meals. That simple.

This trip I traded a show for a much needed massage and got plenty of pool time. There were also a couple standout food experiences: one soley for the vibe and the other for the incredible meal.

Vegas Buffet

The three of us hit up the MGM Grand Buffet for dinner on Thursday night. Don't judge, it was a great decision given the need to maximize our time in between basketball games and our budget.

Plus, we had grossly overpaid for a mediocre meal at Emeril's seafood place the night before. So this felt like a safe bet.

The food was average (crab legs on a buffet is overrated), but the people watching was top notch. Every age, every walk of life, every manner of dress. For $32 apiece, it was the best entertainment I could have asked for.

Steak night

Our truly incredible food night was Friday at Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak. The best steak experience I have ever had.

And the hightlights of the meal were many: buttered yeast rolls, the best lobster bisque I've ever tasted, truly phenomenal wagyu steak perfectly cooked throughout, sweet tiny brussels sprouts with bordelaise.

Lord, so good. And it really just came down to simple, perfect execution with incredible ingredients.

Coming home

By Saturday we were a bit more sun kissed and definitely a tad rounder than when we arrived. Success! It was a fun week with many friends from near and far, but we were excited to return home to these guys.

Kiddos

Loaded Nachos

One of the snacks we ordered poolside were loaded nachos ... and they were terrible. We were so disappointed in the resulting soggy, tasteless mess that was brought out. I told the boys that I could do better.

So our first night home, I found a great recipe from Martha Stewart as a base and adapted what's below from there.

Ingredients

1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Canola oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ounces tortilla chips
2 cups shredded rotisserie or poached chicken
10 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 recipe of McCormick guacamole or 1 avocado, diced
Thinly sliced jalapeno, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Salsa, for garnish
Green onion, for garnish

To make

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and saute a few minutes until soft. Add beans, garlic, cumin and oregano for a few more minutes until flavors combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Drain any excess moisture.

Layer one third the tortilla chips on baking sheet and top with one third the black beans, chicken and cheese. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used.

Transfer to oven and bake until cheese is melted throughout.

Baked

Top with guacamole, green onion, salsa, jalapeno, and sour cream. Serve immediately.

The results

I could sell these for $16 a pop poolside in Vegas and make a killing.

Final

We went quite light on the cheese and skipped the sour cream to be a bit more healthy, but these still had plenty of flavor thanks to all the fresh ingredients. And to be honest, for us, the nachos are just a delivery system for the guac.

Next time I'd add whole kernel corn to the bean mixture for an even more 'loaded' quality, as well as beef up the amount of cumin and cheese. But as-is, these were really good for a lazy Saturday night or appetizer.

Check out a full index of recipes here
Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at theresolvedcook@gmail.com