Recipe created by Todd Wilbur at www.TopSecretRecipes.com. Marno McDermott was a successful Minneapolis restaurateur, opening a chain of Mexican restaurants in the seventies called Zapata's against the advice of skeptics who said he would never able to sell Mexican food to the large population of Scandinavians in the area. Marno proved them wrong then, and once again in 1976, when he partnered with Max McGee, a former Green Bay Packer football player, to open the first Chi-Chi's in Richfield, Minnesota. The restaurant was built inside a deserted Kroger grocery store and became instantly famous for the intensely flavored and larger-than-usual portions of food. To keep volume high, Chi-Chi's designed a custom computer-driven system that clocks every aspect of service from the time each server enters an order to when the order is placed in front of customers. Special attention was given to the design of the menus as well, with each dish taking no more than nine minutes to prepare, even during the rush hours. Since you're starting from scratch, this appetizer will probably take longer than nine minutes to make. You can choose to make the nachos from stor-bought tortilla chips or make them yourself from the *Tidbits (see below). Personally, I think the fresh, home-fried type tastes best. If you're up to the task, amigos, I say give it a go.
- 1⁄2 lb ground beef
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (Spanish blend)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
- 1⁄8 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons water
- 8 ounces restaurant style corn tortilla chips
- 1⁄2 cup refried beans
- 1 1⁄2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1⁄2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1⁄4 cup diced onion
- 1 large red jalapeno chile (or green)
On the Side
- sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.
- Use a spatula or fork to crumble the beef into small pieces as it cooks.
- When you no longer see pink in the meat, drain off the fat.
- To the meat, add the chili powder, salt, dried onion, paprika, and water. Simmer over medium/low heat for 10 minutes.
- If you are going to prepare your own tortilla chips, do that following the instructions in "Tidbits"* while the meat is simmering.
- Heat the refried beans in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
- Mix the two cheeses together in a small bowl.
- Arrange the tortilla chips on a baking sheet or an oven-safe ceramic plate.
- Spread about a tablespoon of refried beans on each chip.
- Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of spiced beef onto the beans on each chip, press down on the beef to make a flat surface for the cheese.
- Carefully pile a small handful of cheese on each chip.
- Sprinkle a pinch of the diced onion over the cheese.
- Place a slice of jalapeño on top of the onion.
- Bake the chips for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Serve with your choice of sour cream, guacamole, and salsa on the side.
- *Tidbits: If you want to make your own tasty tortilla chips, buy some 6-inch corn tortillas and cut two of them twice-like a small pizza-into 4 equal triangular pieces (making a total of 8 slices). Drop the tortilla slices 4 at a time into a frying pan filled with about 1/2 inch of oil that has preheated over medium heat. Chips should bubble rapidly and will only need to fry 30 to 45 seconds per side. They should become a bit more golden in color, and very crispy. Drain the chips on a rack or on some paper towels. Salt to taste.
I worked at Chi-Chi's from 1985-1991 and I always loved these nachos. Just a couple corrections to make them more authentic...at Chi-Chi's we put the jalapenos on the nachos after cooking them, not before. Also - we would build and cook the nachos on the whole 6" round fried corn tortillas and cut them with a pizza cutter after cooking them.
I've never had Chi Chi's nachos, so I'm not sure how they should've tasted, but these were great!! I left out the beans just becuase I don't care for them and added onion to the beef while it was cooking. I garnished with tomatoes and black olives, and omitted jalepeno's because the salsa I used had plenty of them in it. This was a quick, filling dinner and would make it again. Thanks Annacia!!
Very yummy. I used ground turkey, less salt and cheese, and more beans and water. The two of us ate this as our meal, and it was really satisfying!