Chef Luke Venner's skillet nachos
Super Bowl snacks are a very subjective topic. Everyone has their favorites—just like teams—and everyone wants their picks to be a part of the game-day spread. For me, it's all about pigs in a blanket forever and always (because mustard is my favorite condiment and an essential dipping sauce for PIAB), but a close second would be deviled eggs. Or boneless buffalo bites. Not chicken wings, bites.
My husband, Luke, on the other hand, who happens to be a chef who grew up in South Dakota, is all about wings (not bites) and nachos. He loves nachos, just like my mother-in-law (hi, Kris!) but my one gripe with the cheesy chips is they get soggy quickly and then they're ruined for me. Unlike buffalo bites, which can sit around for hours IMO, nachos need to be consumed within the first two minutes. Not 30-40 minutes and an Uber car ride later, which is usually how we have them.
So, on a recent football Sunday, Luke went to order nachos and I thought, not again. "Why don't we make them so we don't have sad, soggy nachos for the game??" I begged and he agreed, saying he would make green chile chili skillet nachos instead.
Before becoming the chef of Elm restaurant in New Canaan, CT, Luke worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a while and lives for anything with green chiles: green chile cheeseburgers, green chile enchiladas and green chile chili. Having tried a few of his green chile chili sliders in the past, I knew these nachos would be epic. Here's what happened when he went into the kitchen to make them—and I tagged along.
Related: 30 Best Super Bowl Nacho Recipes
Ingredients for Skillet Nachos
You can obviously tweak a few of these ingredients based on your nacho preferences or what you have on hand, but for Luke's skillet nachos he pulled out 3 pounds of ground beef, a store-bought packet of chile seasoning, a cup of roasted poblano chiles (he roasted his own at his restaurant but regular canned green chiles work too) and a cup of pinto beans.
Then, for toppings, he grabbed a bag of tortilla chips, shredded cheese, a container of crème fraîche (although you can use sour cream or Mexican-style crema) and pico de gallo. Store-bought pico works as a shortcut although Luke whipped up his own with chopped tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and salt. Fresh, quick, perfect.
How to Make Luke's Skillet Nachos
After your pico is prepped, preheat your oven to 350° and get to work browning your meat. Luke set a pot over medium-high heat, added the ground beef, tossed in the chile seasoning packet and let it do its thing for about 5-10 minutes. Once the meat was browned, he added the green chiles and pinto beans, reduced the heat, covered the pot and let it simmer for another 10-12 minutes.
Once the chili was nice and thick, he started building the nachos by spreading the chili on the bottom of a shallow cast iron skillet, then adding the tortilla chips on top.
Next came the cheese. I'm a firm believer that more is more when it comes to cheese for nachos and thank god, my husband is too.
Needs more cheese.
Once there was cheese touching every and every chip he stuck the skillet under the broiler on high until it was perfectly melty for a few minutes. Notice I said a few. After not enough cheese, the worst thing that can happen to nachos is burnt cheese so don't leave your nachos under the broiler for too long!
Once the cheese was bubbling and the edges of the chips started to brown, he removed the skillet from the oven and topped the nachos with pico de gallo.
For the last step, he used a piping bag to drizzle on rows of crème fraîche, but sour cream or crema works great too.
My Honest Thoughts About His Skillet Nachos
"I wish your mom were here for these!" was the first thing out of my mouth after one dip. Best. Nachos. Ever! For a self-proclaimed nacho enthusiast who is admittedly very picky about nachos, Luke's skillet checked all the boxes: crispy not soggy chips, melty cheese in every nook and cranny and a flavor-bomb mouthful of green chile chili with every bite. Because the meat is on the bottom of the nachos instead of loaded on top, the chips didn't sog out as quickly and allowed us to go back for second scoops later on. The freshness of the pico de gallo and the creamy tang of the crème fraîche were the perfect toppers, but guac would also be great on these skillet nachos.
Tips for Making Chef-Level Skillet Nachos for the Super Bowl
1. Choose the right cheese. While you can certainly get by with plain cheddar, Luke likes a medley of Colby, cheddar and Jack cheeses, which is usually sold as Mexican blend. Even my chef-husband uses the pre-shredded bag of cheese, so it's ok to skip the grating to save yourself some precious time. You don't want to miss a Taylor sighting, right?
2. Swap out the meat. If your SB menu is a little meat-heavy with wings, sliders and pigs in a blanket, you can swap the beef for a lighter option, like ground turkey or chicken. Just brown it the same way with seasonings and chiles.
3. Use a piping bag for a pro look. Sure, you could dollop the crème fraîche around your skillet with a spoon—or you can elevate your Super Bowl spread contribution with a pretty design. Use a piping bag or spoon your crème fraîche into a regular plastic bag, squeeze the bag to push the crème fraîche down to one corner of the bag, then snip a very small hole in the corner. (Start small. You can always cut a larger hole if your first attempt is too small.) Bonus points if you use football field markings as your design inspo.