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These Nachos are Like Flag Cake—Only Gooey, Crispy & Cheesy, Too

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We partnered with Food Should Taste Good to shape our newest batch of nachos into an American flag, for Memorial Day and beyond.

You could make a flag cake for your Memorial Day get together, of course—it’s a classic national-holiday dessert for a reason, that reason being stars and stripes (in addition to general deliciousness, portability, and ability to feed a crowd). Then again, May is a little early for berries anywhere above the Mason-Dixon; it’s pushing it to expect even good strawberries before June. So, back to the drawing board.

Photo by James Ransom

But you know what’s never out of season? What’s similarly beloved, crowd-appropriate, and festive? What can be ready in about 10 minutes and is arguably—I said arguably!—even more delicious than flag cake?

Nachos. Nachos! That’s what—a beloved Tex-Mex classic, born in 1943 in Piedras Negras, Mexico, right across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. According to Smithsonian.com, nachos were invented by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, a maitre d' at a restaurant called The Victory Club. When a group of World War II American army wives arrived, the chef was absent, so Anaya threw together whatever food he could find in the kitchen, namely "canapes of tortilla chips, cheese [reportedly, Wisconsin cheddar!], and jalapeno peppers." Nachos gained popularity over the next few decades and took off when Frank Liberto began, in 1976, to sell them at Arlington Stadium, home of the Texas Rangers at the time.

A hodgepodge of nachos celebrates our hodgepodge culinary history. And what's more festive than sharing? Than goopy cheese? Than equally delicious corners of the nacho pan for all?

They also, ahem, go better with beer than cake does, and since Memorial Day means a long weekend, we hope you’re taking that sort of thing, i.e. beer, into consideration.

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Here's how to do it: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper; this guarantees an easy clean-up, so you don’t have to spend the rest of your long weekend chipping away at baked-on cheese. Fill in the top left corner of the pan with blue corn chips, then alternate long stripes of pale corn chips (yellow, white, or multigrain will do) with reddish ones (think sweet potato chips or something similarly colored) over the rest of the pan. Now you’ve got your basic flag! Time to get crazy.

Goopy dots of cheese—cotija or mozz, maybe—begin to look a lot like stars when dropped all over a blue quadrant beefed up with black beans. Copious spoonfuls of pico de gallo, romesco, or other salsas (or refried pinto beans!) up the saturation of the red stripes; over on the white stripes, more cheese—or slivers of onion, spiced white beans, shredded chicken, sour cream…

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And while there’s no green on the American flag, we're paying homage to the dish's origins with avocado or cilantro. (You could also make a Mexican flag alongside your American flag! And any flag that contains green or blue, white, and/or red is a fine candidate.)

Set out various other toppings—olives! jalapeño slices, fresh or pickled! crispy bacon!—for folks to help themselves to.

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Slide the whole mess (sans cold things like avocado and sour cream, of course) into a hot oven (400°F will get things toasty and crisp without burning) until those cheesy stars start to melt—and then all that’s left to do is eat them.

Let the nachos drive you to make grand, rosy declarations or simply leave it at "Delicious!" and hope your friends have space for a second pan’s worth.

Food Should Taste Good chips, like Multigrain, Blue Corn, and Sweet Potato, will make your flag nachos that much more colorful—and delicious. We're piling them up on our sheet pans for more batches, so see all of their tortilla chips here.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Snack, Infographics