Wednesday, 8 February 2012

London Nachos

The whole point of nachos is to create something greater than the sum of its parts. There is nothing particularly special about tortilla chips and cheese that cannot be found in a billion combinations on a thousand other Mexican dishes. But with nachos, I don't play by the rules.

I cannot muster much of a 'Wow' from my friends, if I heave onto my table a platter of bog standard Mexicana. My friends are a tough crowd, and expect a whole lot more. So, under the 'nachos' banner, I always seek to outdo my previous incarnations, by combining gourmet flavours, colours and cuisines in pushing some tired old boundaries. Today's recipe takes Asian, Italian, Texan and Greek influences, and makes something... London style!

The only rule is to be aware that you are not aiming to create a mountain of sloppy gunge. Be creative - not revolting.

Tortilla chips are cheap (79p for a large bag, from my local supermarket at Marble Arch) and the other ingredients can be as thrifty or as deluxe as you like - but you'll be hard pressed to spend more than £3 per serving, whatever you add. This recipe comes in at a very friendly £2.50 per serving. Fabulous with a cold beer.

Serves 4


Half of a small white cabbage, finely shredded
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of celery seeds
Pinches of salt and pepper
100g breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon garam masala
200g pork belly, cut into 2cm dice
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil for frying
2 x 200g bags of lightly salted tortilla chips
4 red chillis, deseeded and sliced into thin rings
3 balls of mozzarella cheese, cut into 1cm dice
150g shop-bought small Swedish meatballs (like the ones from Ikea)
3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce
100g natural greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 clove of garlic, minced
200g block of feta cheese, cut into 5mm dice
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
Juice of a lime
Handful of capers

Start by making the coleslaw: Mix the cabbage, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, celery seeds and salt and pepper together. Set aside.

Mix the breadcrumbs and garam masala together. Dip the pork belly chunks into the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs and then deep fry, on a moderate heat, until golden (10 minutes approx). Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200c. On a large, oven-proof platter, spread the tortilla chips, followed by the chillis and then the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese has melted.

Microwave the meatballs in a bowl with the barbecue sauce, until piping hot. Arrange the meatballs and the pork belly over the platter.

Heap the coleslaw in a mound in the centre of the platter.

Mix the yoghurt, feta cheese, mint and garlic together. Dot the sauce evenly around the edges of the platter.

Mix the tomatoes, spring onions, lime juice and capers together. Dot the salsa evenly on any un-sauced parts of the platter. Serve immediately.

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