Nachos in a Bag

"I am a traditionalist when it comes to nachos, and my gold star goes to the 'walking taco,'" says Kristen Kish, winner of Top Chef Season 10. "I'm talking about the oldschool, cafeteria hot lunch–style walking taco. Individual bags of chips filled with grated cheddar cheese, taco meat, sour cream, chopped onion, pickled jalapeño, canned black olives, tomatoes and whatever else you could find at the salad bar. I was known to top it all off with a little ranch dressing and buttery corn. You roll the top of the paper bag closed, shake it, then dig in with a plastic spork. The chips are evenly coated, every bite drenched, your knuckles kissed by the flavors as you dig for that last bite in the bottom corner. When I was a kid, it was fun. As an adult, it's fuel for nights of too many drinks and filthy one-night stands. And a plastic spork will make it taste better, I promise." Reprinted from ¡Buenos Nachos! by Gina Hamadey. Copyright © 2016 by W&P Design. Published by Dovetail (

Nachos in a Bag
Photo: © W&P Design


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon chile powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon coriander

  • 1⁄4 cup tomato paste

  • 1⁄2 cup water

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 8 to 10 ounces tortilla chips (1 medium bag)

  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

  • 1⁄4 cup pickled jalapeño slices

  • 1⁄2 cup cooked corn kernels

  • 1⁄2 cup sliced black olives

  • 1 large tomato, cored and diced

  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream

  • 1⁄4 cup bottled ranch dressing


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking the meat up with a spoon, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the spices and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the water, bring to a simmer and cook until the meat has absorbed the liquid, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice. Set aside.

  2. Divide the chips among 4 brown-paper lunch bags or small chip bags. (You can also serve the nachos in 4 bowls.) Divide the meat, cheese, onion, jalapeño slices, corn, olives, tomato, sour cream and ranch dressing among the bags. Close and shake the bags well to distribute the ingredients. Serve with forks.

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