Unlike the origins of some popular foods, the birth of nachos can be traced back to an exact creator and moment in time. The snack was originally created in 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, a maitre d’ at a restaurant called Victory Club (in Piedras Negras, Mexico, just over the border from Eagle Pass, Texas). The first rendering consisted of fried tortilla chips covered with melted cheese (Wisconsin cheese, mind you) and jalapeno peppers. It was a simple dish that Anaya threw together when the wives of several US soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan came to the restaurant after it had closed for the day. He called it Nacho’s Especiales. The rest is history.
Since then, the dish has been endlessly recreated and re-imagined. Some versions are brilliant. Others, a disgusting mess of stale chips and soupy orange cheese (it’s always sad when a good thing goes so wrong). I love nachos to no end—I want ‘em after I’ve finished a 70-mile bike ride, I want ‘em after a few too many beers—there’s just never a bad time for nachos. I’m on an endless quest for the best.
And so, last week, I was particularly intrigued by Mark Bittman’s (creator of the New York Times’ cooking column, “The Minimalist“, and his daily blog, Bitten) recipe for Greek-Style Nachos. The dish consists of baked pita chips and ground lamb smothered in a feta yogurt sauce, sprinkled with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s a recipe that seems to marry two of my favorite dishes—nachos and gyros. Clearly, a match made in heaven.
Over the weekend, I set to work to bring these Greek-Style Nachos to life. I found ground lamb at Whole Foods and fresh mint and veggies at the farmers’ market. I chopped pita pockets into 1-inch triangles, brushed them with olive oil, and baked for just over ten minutes. Meanwhile, I threw all of the ingredients for the feta yogurt sauce into my blender, and mixed until smooth. Next, I browned the onions and lamb meat, with a bit of cumin. Then I lovingly assembled my nachos and devoured. You can watch a video here of Mark Bittman creating the dish. It’s nacho time. Enjoy.