If there's one thing you can count on at any baseball game, it's ballpark nachos, hot dogs and beer. But did you know that the nachos we eat today while cheering on our favorite teams were actually invented in Texas? Yes! Whether you are in a ballpark or the football stadium we have to thank Frank Liberto, the father of cheesy game day nachos.
According to the Smithsonian, Frank Liberto brought the first dish of nachos to a Texas Rangers game all the way back in 1976. The difference was in the cheese sauce. Ooey and gooey, this orange cheese sauce was able to be pumped out of containers, making it speedy fast to serve hungry customers.
Today our version pays an ode to the original with a homemade twist. The concession stand version technically doesn't include "cheese", and is usually served with a side of pickled jalapeños. We decided to spruce this dish up a tad by adding on our version of chili beef, cheddar cheese sauce, pico de gallo and sour cream.
How to Make Stadium Nachos
Before even starting to cook, we need to think about the base of our ballpark nachos. The traditional route is corn tortilla chips but you can mix it up however you would like. Make it with blue corn, white corn, or even homemade chips. It's all up to you when it comes to this appetizer.
Today we decided to stick with the OG chip-corn. Spread them out on a big sheet pan or serving tray. The more you spread the chips out, the more topping will get on each chip.
Now it's time to move on over to the meat sauce. Flavorful and packed with a bite of chili powder, this meat sauce is so good on its own. To begin, brown the beef in a large skillet until it is nice and browned. Drain the fat from the pan and add in the diced tomatoes (with their juice), chili powder, and cumin.
Stir it all in and let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes on medium heat. We don't want the mixture to be totally wet and drown our tortilla chips. Instead, we are looking for the flavors of the tomato to intertwine into the beef and evaporate out.
Add in the onion and garlic and turn the skillet down to low. Essentially we are cooking the onion and garlic until they are translucent to get a fairly subtle flavor.
Once the onions are all cooked up, turn the heat off and cover the meat. We want to keep it hot until we are ready to serve.
Now let's jump into the cheese sauce. While Frank Liberto's cheese sauce recipe is still a well-guarded secret, it's pretty simple to whip up your own version using real cheese. (Yes, if you didn't know, the nachos you get at the movie theater doesn't contain any real cheese).
This particular nacho cheese sauce is thickened by roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (in this case butter). Melt the butter in the pan and whisk in the flour. The mixture only needs about a minute or two to cook. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened. Since the flour had been cooked already in the roux we don't need to worry about boiling the mixture.
Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the shredded cheese. Make sure that you are not adding this over the heat because the cheese will curdle, making this cheese sauce very unappetizing.
Build the Nachos
It's time to put everything together! Layer on the ground beef mixture, the melted cheese sauce, pico de gallo and sour cream. These ultimate nachos can be doctored up however you like.
Squeeze on some lime juice or sprinkle on small pieces of jalapeños. It's the perfect Monday night football snack which watching the Dallas Cowboys or the Houston Texans.