“When I was young and growing up in Dallas, our favorite Mexican restaurant was a family-owned hole-in-the wall called Herrera’s,” writes Lisa Fain in The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. “It’s now expanded to a much larger location, but in the 1970s it was in an old adobe building that had ten tables and to reach the dining room, you had to walk through the kitchen. Dallas went crazy for its soulful cooking, and the waits to get in were often long, but it was worth it.
“We all had our favorite things to order: For my dad, it was the enchiladas, I loved the tamales, and my mom always went for the crazy nachos. Now, it always surprised me that my mom would order nachos since she ate them at home almost every single day for her lunch. However, she explained that while hers were good, Herrera’s Crazy Nachos were the best.
“In those days—before nachos became a sloppy stack of “chips and stuff”—nachos were a refined, simpler dish, with each individual tortilla chip topped with just cheese, beans, and jalapeños. So when Herrera’s added taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream to their crazy nachos, it was considered quite daring and wild. That said, Herrera’s crazy nachos were still elegant: each chip was a self-contained bite of all these fantastic flavors.
“I admit that the name may seem a bit dated to some, as there’s really nothing crazy about these nachos at all. But no matter what you call them, they’re a fully loaded treat that is great to enjoy when watching games or sitting around and visiting with family and friends. And, if you’re like my mom, they make a fine meal, too.”
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ripe plum tomato (about 2 ounces), seeded, cored, and diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced, or ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon masa harina or cornmeal
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- To make the chipotle taco meat, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the beef and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is lightly browned and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add the tomato, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and chipotle chile. Stir until the spices are well distributed, turn down the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the masa harina until well combined, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- Stir in the lime juice and remove from the heat.
Reprinted with permission from The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.” Food Photography credit: Lisa Fain © 2014