Today is Crispy Carnitas day 3. We made a bunch in the Instant Pot over the weekend (lucky us!) and there were leftovers. There were street tacos on day one, and lettuce wraps with preserved lemons on day two. We still have a bunch of slow-cooked pork left, so today it’s loaded nachos. I love to cook in large batches even though there is only two of us, because it makes for quick, yummy meals mid-week, and we are less likely to order takeaway.
As I suggested in my carnitas recipe, I return lots of the pan juices and fat into the shredded meat when I put the leftovers into the airtight container. And since I only heat what I am using for each meal, the meat is still as juicy and delish as the day it was made. A few moments under the broiler or in a cast iron pan is all it needs to crisp it up.
Versatile menus from one cook
There is so much you can do with carnitas once it is made, it is easy to make meals with it throughout the week without having people grumble about eating leftovers “again”. I can’t imagine anyone would have a problem with crispy carnitas day 3 if they are being served a great big pile of nachos, can you? Or a big, healthy burrito bowl with cilantro lime rice (that’s tomorrow’s meal).
Nachos for the fun of it
Nachos are less about cooking a complex meal, and more about having fun. As my BF Trilo likes to point out, it’s success is mostly about ‘casual indifference’, not worrying about technique so much and just tossing together things because they are yummy. I can’t argue with that!
Since we already have all of the ingredients on hand, and the meat is already cooked this meal comes together fast. I can even whip up a quick and tasty guacamole while the meat is crisping in the oven!
Oven or microwave?
I had a desire to dirty as few pans as possible, so I decided to assemble the carnitas loaded nachos in the same enameled (Tarte Tatin) pan I crisped the meat in. I then put everything back into the oven to get heated through to melt the cheese. Unfortunately, my rack was a bit too close to the broiler, so the first version got a bit singed, oops! But lesson learned, and my second version turned out perfect in the middle of the oven. You can also heat your nachos in the microwave if you use a microwave-safe dish. But I like the way the oven melts and crisps everything together. Just be careful removing the pan from the oven, it will be hot!
- 1-1/2 cups Carnitas cooked (see notes)
- 1 ear Corn kernels sliced off
- 1/2 cup Tomato cubed
- 1/4 cup Red onion chopped fine
- 1 cup Refried black beans
- 1 cup Queso Fresco cubed
- 16 oz Mexican cheese blend shredded
- 1/4 cup Black olives sliced
- 14 oz Tortilla chips thicker is better
- 1/2 Avocado cubed
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema
- 4 sprigs Cilantro leaves removed
- 1 Green onion sliced fine
- 1/4 Lime optional
- Gather your ingredients, including the Carnitas we previously cooked in the Instant Pot. (Recipe here)Set the rack in your over to the middle position, and preheat your oven to 350º.For your toppings, you will want to cut everything into small cubes or fine dice so they are easy to sprinkle on the nachos.I also like to pre-heat my beans, to make sure they are hot when serving. I do this is in the microwave for a minute.
- Put the carnitas into the Tarte Tatin pan (or other oven-safe dish), spreading it out to get heated evenly. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the edges get browned and crisp. Don’t overcook or the meat will get dry. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Remove meat to a small bowl.
- Heat the cast iron skillet on the stove, with a small drizzle of olive oil. Add the corn you sliced off the ear, and let it sit until it begins to brown. Toss the corn with a spatula to turn kernels over. You want to get some color on the corn. Remove from pan to a small bowl.
- To make drizzling easier, I like to put the crema into a small squeeze bottle.
- Alternately, you can take a small ziplock bag, put a few dollops of crema, seal it up, squeezing out the air. Then when you are read yo squeeze the crema on your nachos, you can cut a small tip off the bag.
- Start assembling you’re nachos by putting a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle some of the cheese blend over top. Add another handful of chips, and more cheese blend. Sprinkle some of the queso fresco cheese on as well, and dollop some of the refried beans around.
- Add another big handful of chips, more of the cheeses, and beans. Start sprinkling the olives, roasted corn, onions, and tomato. Feel free to add your favorite toppings. How you “load” your nachos is all about making it the way you like it, after all.
- Add a bit more chips, and pile your crispy carnitas in the center of the mound. Sprinkle on whatever toppings you have left, making sure to finish with a bunch of cheese on top, so it can melt over the meat.Note: I prefer to leave the avocado until after cooking, but you can add some now.
- Put the pan of nachos in the middle rack of the oven. Heat through until you can see the cheese is getting melted. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. (Especially if you have a small oven, and a tall pile of nachos!)When melted, carefully remove the pan from the oven, it will be very hot!
- Add the avocado, and squeeze the crema over the top. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves and sliced green onions over top. And serve while still hot!