These nachos are a small mountain of thoughtful components that together create casual party food that’s also a paean to the dish itself. At B.S. Taqueria, chef Ray Garcia’s casual downtown L.A. taco joint (his high-end restaurant Broken Spanish is nearby), the plate of nachos that have been on the menu since the place opened seem at first like ad hoc snack food. But pull the crisp tortillas out of the pile one by one, Jenga-like, and you’ll find intricacies — of flavor, of technique — loaded inside. Habanero-jolted pinto beans. Picadillo and escabeche and pico de gallo. A silky cheese sauce thickened with rice flour and spiked with serranos. A tomatillo-avocado salsa that’s less like the taqueria salsa you might expect than a complex sauce verte.
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Soak the beans in water to cover overnight, then drain and rinse. In a large pot, combine the beans, onion and peppers with enough cold water to cover. Simmer until the beans are tender and soft, careful not to overcook, about 1 hour, adding additional water if needed. Drain and discard the onion and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately, then rewarm before serving. This makes about 1½ quarts of beans.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the ground beef. Sear the ground beef, constantly stirring until it is browned on all sides.
Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the onion, then the tomatoes and chiles. Add the paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper and garlic powder, stirring until evenly combined. Simmer until the vegetables are softened and the tomatoes have reduced to sauce. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and simmer a few minutes longer, until the pan juices have thickened. Stir in the salt and hot sauce to taste. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately, and reheat before serving. This makes about 5 cups picadillo.
In a heavy-bottom pot, add enough oil to coat the bottom and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chiles, heating until lightly blistered on all sides, about 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots, sweating until brightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onions, stirring just until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, then the vinegar, along with the oregano and bay leaf. Gently simmer until the carrots are tender but not too soft.
Strain the liquid and cool the vegetables, then cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes a scant quart escabeche. Finely chop the escabeche before adding to the nachos.
In a heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the chiles and onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the rice flour and continue to cook, frequently stirring, for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk to avoid lumps, and gently simmer the sauce until it thickens, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the cheeses, stirring until they melt.
Using an immersion blender, or in a stand blender, purée the sauce. Strain, discarding any bits of vegetable. Season with salt to taste. This makes a scant 1 ½ quarts cheese sauce. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately. Rewarm before serving.
In a large bowl, toss the tomatillos, onion slices, garlic cloves and chiles with enough oil to lightly coat.
Heat a griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Add the vegetables and griddle until charred on all sides. Remove from heat and place in a deep container or non-reactive pot.
To the container, add the avocado pulp, lime juice, water and cilantro. Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender, or in batches using a tabletop blender. Taste and adjust the flavorings and seasonings if desired. This makes a scant 2 quarts salsa. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pico de gallo
In a nonreactive bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onion, chiles, cilantro, lime juice and a scant teaspoon salt, or to taste.
On a large platter, assemble the nachos, alternating the chips with dollops or spoonfuls of each of the toppings, and layering to make a nice mound. Garnish with cilantro before serving.
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