Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Chile Morita Beef Nachos with Spicy Queso

Cuisine: Tex Mex
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings

I had my first plate of nachos when I moved to Texas in the late 70s. Every time I visit Texas, I must have a loaded plate of nachos with extra jalapeños! For my version of the classic Texas nacho, I incorporated one of my favorite dried chiles, chile morita. It's spicy and smoky, much like the chipotle pepper. One of the best ways to incorporate it into a recipe is in a cooked salsa. In this case, the cooked salsa would become the braising liquid for my slow-cooker version of carne guisada. And being that I am recently home from Texas, I was craving a big bowl of nachos with a spicy queso sauce. Great for game-day or a movie night.


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  1. In a skillet, preheat (2 minutes) 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium/high heat. Add the beef and season with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Toss to combine and cook until the beef browns nicely. Add the onions, garlic and serrano and cook for 3 more minutes. Transfer to slow cooker, add 5 cups of water, bouillon and bay leaves. Cover and turn heat to high.
  2. In a sauce pan, add the tomatoes, tomatillos and chile morita. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ingredients to the blender. Add 1/3 cup of cooking water, cover and blend on high until smooth. Pour blended salsa into slow cooker. Season with cumin and oregano and salt to taste. Keep covered and continue cooking for 4 hours on high.
  3. While beef is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, heat the 3 tablespoons of butter to medium heat. Once butter melts, wisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, whisking as needed for one minute. Add the red chile pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the room temperature milk. Cook, whisking often until sauce becomes thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and chile limon powder. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the shredded cheese until sauce is smooth. Set aside. If it’s not smooth, heat on low and stir until smooth.
  4. Once beef is tender and seasoned to your liking, reheat the spicy queso until melted and creamy. You can plate the nachos on a big serving platter layered with spicy queso, chile morita beef, fresh salsa and garnishes. Or for smaller parties, you can let your guest serve them up in individual bowls and top as desired.

Chef Notes

After beef has cooked, if the chile morita sauce is too thin, whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water until smooth. While beef is still cooking, stir it into the slow cooker until well incorporated. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.

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