Build the Perfect Plate of Nachos

11/06/2013 at 01:11 PM ET

Aaron Sanchez National Nacho Day Recipe
Michael Harlan Turkell

Is there anything worse than eating a soggy nacho? Yeah, eating a naked nacho!

Well, let’s actually call it a tie because they’re both equally bad in our book—especially for a dish packed with so much potential. Just look at these cheesey, smokey black bean nachos by chef Aarón Sánchez. Wouldn’t it be a shame to dig in and only pull out a limp chip with barely a drop of cheese on it?

Let’s stop the nacho disappointment right now.

The first step to knock-out nachos: surface area—and creating as much as you can. Grab the biggest serving platter you have (or even a baking sheet) and spread the chips out like a jigsaw puzzle. (That mountain of chips served at sports bars may look amazing, but we all know it’s all downhill after that top layer is gone.) This way, every chip has equal access to the toppings.

The key to non-soggy nachos lies in the layering. In Sánchez’s recipe, start with warm chips, add the shredded cheese and then pour on the hot black bean sauce. The cheese will gently melt between the heated layers, without soaking the chips completely. Once the chip-cheese-sauce foundation is complete, add as many of your favorite toppings as your platter will hold!

Nachos in Smoky Black Bean Sauce
Serves 6

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 oz) black beans, undrained
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 box hard taco shells, any variety
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup salsa
½ cup sour cream
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

1. In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 4 minutes or until onions are softened, stirring frequently. Add beans with their liquid, the chipotle and oregano. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Break taco shells into large chips and arrange in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes or until heated through.

3. Arrange warm chips on large serving platter. Sprinkle evenly with cheese then pour bean mixture over chips. Top with salsa and sour cream and sprinkle with diced green chiles. Serve immediately.

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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