Chicken Nachos with Mango Salsa

I’m pretty sure my grandmother never ate nachos, much less made them. And I’d be willing to bet she never saw a whole mango. But this recipe hits all the important points: it’s all from scratch, with fresh ingredients, and it tastes at least as good as it looks.

As I said in the mango salsa recipe, this dish was inspired by the Leftover Queen’s Royal Foodie Joust for May 2008. Next time I make it, it’ll just be because it’s so darn good.

Ingredients


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups mango salsa
¼ pound extra sharp cheddar cheese
tortilla chips
red onion (optional, whatever is left over after making the salsa)
1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat or olive oil

Directions

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips across the grain. If you cut in the same direction as the fibers in the meat, it will get tough when you cook it.

If the breasts were especially thick, cut the slices in half lengthwise. You want the pieces to be bite-sized.

Combine the chicken with all the dry ingredients …

… and toss with tongs to combine.

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes while you heat a frying pan. The salt will draw out some moisture and dissolve the sugar, turning it into a light sauce. Melt the bacon fat in the frying pan and add the chicken.

Add the onion, if you are using any …

… and toss lightly to coat with the fat.

Keep stirring as you cook the chicken so the sugar doesn’t burn. It’s done when the sugar starts to caramelize and the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Fill a plate or shallow bowl with tortilla chips. Have the salsa and shredded cheese ready to assemble each plate.

Top the chips with half the cheese. One new thing I tried, which worked out really well, was to not melt the cheese.

Top the cheese with half the chicken.

(Notice that I’m using different tongs here than the ones I used to handle the raw chicken. People have been getting the point that you can’t use the same plate to hold cooked meat that you used for the raw meat. This is true for the rest of the tools, too.)

The heat from the chicken will partially melt the cheese. The part-melted/part-unmelted cheese gave a great contrast of textures.

Top the chicken with some salsa.

Serve immediately, while the chicken is still hot and the salsa is still cool.

And that’s it.

Bonus:

This mango salsa goes great with black cherry soda, especially one made with real sugar.

Chicken Nachos with Mango Salsa

Chicken Nachos with Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups mango salsa
  • ¼ pound extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • red onion (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat or olive oil

Instructions

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips across the grain. Add all the dry ingredients and toss to combine. Set aside for a few minutes so the salt draws out some moisture from the chicken.

Heat bacon fat (or olive oil) in a cast iron or non-stick pan and add chicken and (optionally) diced red onion. Toss over medium heat until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Arrange chips on serving dish. Top with cheese, then chicken, then salsa. The hot chicken will melt the cheese.

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