BLUE CHIP NACHOS WITH PULLED BEEF & AVO­CADO CREMA

These nachos look to Cuba for in­spi­ra­tion with ropa vieja (braised flank steak), sweet piquillo pep­pers and briny green olives. Avoid tor­tilla chips that are too del­i­cate for the na­cho treat­ment; Que Pasa blue corn chips are a good brand for the job. Thi

Food & Drink - - ENTERTAINI­NG FAN FARE -

PULLED BEEF

1 flank steak, about 2 lbs (1 kg)

Salt and freshly ground pep­per to taste 2 tbsp (30 mL) veg­etable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves gar­lic, finely chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin

½ tsp (2 mL) dried oregano

1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

Gran­u­lated sugar to taste

AVO­CADO CREMA

2 ripe av­o­ca­dos

½ cup (125 mL) full-fat sour cream 3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh lime juice

Salt to taste

NACHOS

1 lb (500 g) sturdy tor­tilla chips, prefer­ably blue corn ½ lb (250 g) old ched­dar, grated

½ lb (250 g) Mon­terey Jack, grated

6 jarred piquillo pep­pers, sliced, about ¾ cup (175 mL)

½ cup (125 mL) sliced green olives

½ cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro

Hot sauce (prefer­ably Cholula) for serv­ing

1 For the pulled beef, cut flank steak in half length­wise. Cut each piece in half cross­wise. Pat dry with pa­per towel and sea­son with salt and pep­per.

2 Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook steaks un­til nicely browned, about 3 min­utes per side. Trans­fer steaks to a plate and re­duce heat to medium. Add onion. Cook, stir­ring, 3 min­utes. Add gar­lic and cook 1 minute. Add spices and cook 30 sec­onds. Deglaze pan with stock, stir­ring up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add tomato sauce, bay leaf and beef. Cover and ad­just heat to main­tain gen­tle sim­mer. Cook, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til very ten­der, about 3 hours.

3 Trans­fer beef to bak­ing tray. Raise heat to medium and re­duce liq­uid un­til it has thick­ened, about 5 min­utes. If it tastes tart, add sugar. Pull beef into shreds with 2 forks. Stir beef into re­duced sauce and re­move from heat. (Cooled, cov­ered and re­frig­er­ated, beef will keep for up to 5 days.)

4 To make the avo­cado crema, place avo­cado flesh, sour cream, lime juice and salt in a food pro­ces­sor. Purée un­til smooth. Trans­fer to an air­tight con­tainer. Press plas­tic wrap against sur­face. Re­frig­er­ate up to 1 day.

5 Pre­heat oven to 350°F (180°F).

6 Line a heavy-duty rimmed bak­ing sheet with foil. Spread out half the chips and sprin­kle with half the ched­dar and Mon­terey Jack. Top with about one-third of beef then half of piquillo pep­pers and olives. Top with re­main­ing chips, sav­ing any small bro­ken chips for an­other use. Re­peat, lay­er­ing the top­pings, sav­ing re­main­ing beef for an­other use. Bake un­til cheeses are melted, about 20 min­utes.

7 Re­move from oven and sprin­kle with cilantro. Serve im­me­di­ately with avo­cado crema and hot sauce on side. Serves 6 to 8

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