This week has been a bit strange in that I've accomplished a ton of stuff, but not much of what I originally intended to. In fact, this recipe is a case in point … I had a different one planned, but inexplicably can't find the photos for it! Could be that I got so wrapped up in making it that I neglected to even TAKE the photos! Stranger things have happened.
[Couldn't we all use an assistant? Or, at least, clones of ourselves?! How hard could THAT be?]
I LOVE this recipe that I didn't intend on sharing, but that I'm finally getting around to doing anyway. Partly because I love Mexican food, partly because it's got a bit of spicy kick, and very much because of the wonderful flavors. It doesn't take much time to prepare either, and that is always a plus in my book.
As the name implies, it calls for chipotle peppers. These can pack quite a punch in the heat department so if you are sensitive, you might want to dial it back. However, I fully recommend the full amount (the recipe only calls for one or two peppers anyway) and I don't think you'll be disappointed! Be aware, though, your cutting board will be stained for a while … it's part of the Chipotle Territory that we must all accept.
Dice ½ cup of onion and scoop it into your pan on the blade of your chef's knife, or using my favorite scooping tool—I don't even know what it's called, but I love it!)
Brown the onion, then add the oregano and cumin seeds. (Please use the SEEDS … if you use the same amount of cumin powder, you'll wish you hadn't!)
At this point in the game, you'll want to grab a spoon and dig in, never mind that there's nothing but onions in the pan! The aroma that the oregano and cumin seeds give off is enough to send you packing to Mexico for the rest of your life!
After you've cooked the onions and added the spices, then peppers, you then add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste thinned with a bit of water (you could also use broth) and vinegar. Cook this down till much of the liquid is gone, then add in the pulled chicken. Allow it to cook until it's warm.
You can either bake 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven, sprinkled with salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, oregano, and cayenne, like I did (and which must be done ahead of time) … OR you can use a store-roasted chicken. If you choose to use a store-roasted chicken, you should purchase one that is a bit 'generic' in flavor, like maybe the Mediterranean one with lemons and oregano, as that won't compete too much with the other ingredients in this dish. Either way, pull the chicken apart using a couple of forks—you'll need about 2 cups worth.
While the chicken is warming, arrange tortilla chips on a cookie sheet. I like round chips because they look nice and they are a bit easier to top. They are also easy to eat and at a party where finger food is de rigueur, ease of eating is always appreciated by the guests.
Top them with Monterrey Jack cheese. (If you want MORE kick, use Pepper Jack. Personally, I don't care for the competition of the pepper flavors. I prefer the single chipotle.)
… and then top each with a bit of chicken.
Pop them into a 450° oven for just a bit (maybe about three minutes is all that is needed) until the cheese starts to melt and the chips are turning a bit golden on the edges.
While they are in the oven, prepare the Cilantro-Avocado Crema by chopping ⅓ cup of the avocado into a very small dice, mixing it with a bit of sour cream and cilantro and thinning the crema with a wee bit of milk. It is such a refreshing, cool topping for these slightly spicy nachos.
When you take the nachos out of the oven, top each one with a little Crema and if you really want to get fancy, put a leaf of cilantro on each one or sprinkle the entire pan with chopped cilantro. Whatever you do, don't leave off the cilantro!
I usually make this recipe in the individual, appetizer-style way, to everyone's great appreciation.
However, feel free to load up a pan with chips, cover it with cheese, top it with the chicken, and then bake it all that way. It all tastes the same and is not as 'fancy' as the individual pieces of chips. You could call it 'Dumped' Chicken Nachos! Serve the Crema and/or other salsa on the side and all your Super Bowl Party Macho Men will be very happy! They really don't care anyway as long as it tastes good going down the hatch!
This recipe is one that is just as comfortable at a Super Bowl Party as well as at a cocktail party. I mean, really, Folks, tell me who doesn't like Mexican flavors at any and all times?!