For those of you who have not had the honour, nay the privilege, of trying choriqueso before, it is a combination if Mexican chorizo and melted cheese. And for the record, Mexican chorizo is not the same as the cured, ready-to-consume Spanish chorizo that you would see on a cheese plate or charcuterie platter. It is raw ground pork with a good dose of chile mixed in that has usually imbued the meat with a violently reddish-orange tint. When cooked, it gives off the perfect amount of deliciously spicy grease. You can just imagine the joy that emanates from the combination of the heavily spiced, savoury meat with the pull of melted Oaxaca cheese. It would be entirely fair to posit that choriqueso is one of the most magnificent flavour duos of all time, but let’s at least pretend that we’re giving the other combinations a chance…
1 white onion, roughly chopped into 8 (or so) pieces
6-8 medium tomatillos
6 large Roma (plum) tomatoes
1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
3 tbsp olive oil
Handful cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
Juice of 1 lime
3 dried guajillo chiles (available in Latino grocery stores or specialty food shops)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
4 tsp smoked hot paprika
½ tbsp kosher salt
1 lb ground pork
1 tsp olive oil
Nachos and Assembly:
½ a red onion, sliced thinly into half-moons
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 ears corn, shucked
2 tsp olive oil
6 oz bag good-quality tortilla chips (so, not the kind that are basically Doritos without cheese dust)
2 balls Oaxaca cheese or 1 brick pizza mozzarella, shredded or “pulled” (if using Oaxaca)
1 ½ cups queso fresco, crumbled
4 scallions, chopped
Small handful cilantro leaves, to serve
Start by making the salsa, since it will need time to cool prior to serving. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the onion, tomatillos, Roma tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a very generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies are starting to blister and lightly char, tossing occasionally. If your oven runs cold, you may want to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to give everything one last blast of heat. Transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor along with cilantro and lime juice. Blitz until fairly smooth, then season to taste. Set salsa aside to cool.
While the salsa cools, make the chorizo. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and toast the chiles for ~2 minutes per side, just until the skins become fragrant and slightly suffocating. Let cool, then snip the chiles into 1-inch rings, discarding the stems and as many seeds as possible. Cover the chile rings with ½ cup hot water and let soak for 10 minutes. Transfer the softened chiles to a blender or food processor along with the garlic, paprika, and salt. Process until you have a relatively smooth paste. If you have a shitty blender/food processor, you can always try to strain the paste through a fine mesh strainer prior to using (only do this if you still have large chunks of chile skin flecked throughout the paste). Use your hands to mix the chile paste gently into the ground pork, taking care not to squeeze or manhandle the meat as you incorporate the paste. Touch the pork as lightly as possible since ground meat tends to become tougher the more you handle it. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the same skillet used for toasting the chiles. Break up chunks of the spiced ground pork into the hot pan, cooking for 8 minutes or so until no pink spots remain (stir every so often to avoid sticking). Let cool slightly.
In a small deep bowl or medium-sized jar, combine the red onion and red wine vinegar, submerging as many of the onion slices as possible. Cover with plastic or a lid and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure that all the slices get pickled and submerged. Set aside. While the onion pickles, rub the corn cobs with olive oil (1 tsp per cob) and season with salt. Heat a griddle pan to high heat (or a BBQ…or just an ordinary skillet if none of these items are available in your home). Place the oiled corn cobs in the pan and cook on all sides until well-charred (~10 minutes). I find it’s easier to char the corn when it lies parallel to the grates/ridges as opposed to perpendicular to them, which always seems like the more natural way to place them. Let cool, then cut the kernels from the cob and set aside.
Preheat the oven back up to 425 degrees F (assuming you turned it off after roasting your salsa veggies). To assemble the nachos, place half the tortilla chips in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Crumble half of the cooked chorizo over the chips, followed by half of the charred corn kernels and half of the Oaxaca/mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layering one more time. Bake until melted and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the crumbled queso fresco, pickled onion slices, chopped scallions, and cilantro leaves. Serve with roasted salsa alongside. Blow people’s minds.