Las Vegas is a city that’s never been short on over-the-top experiences, especially lately with U2 at the Sphere and a Formula One Grand Prix.
As home to Super Bowl LVIII this Sunday, the city is once again triggering extravagant measures. The average price of a ticket to the game is $9,185 ( ₹7,62,208)— the highest yet. The previous record was $7,046 ( ₹5,84,727) in 2021 for Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida. Even airlines have made major changes to their schedules: At the end of January, American Airlines introduced flight 1989 from Kansas City to Las Vegas, in honor of Taylor Swift’s most famous album and her Kansas City Chiefs tight end boyfriend, Travis Kelce.
Likewise, singular dining options are in place for this year’s game. One of the world’s top chefs, Rasmus Munk of Alchemist, is in from Copenhagen to host a series of popups. And chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will serve brunch fountain-side at Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio, with dishes like king crab benedict with caviar hollandaise.
But it’s an amped-up game day classic at the Chef Truck that has my attention: fully loaded nachos.
Parked at the Park MGM, the food truck is the brainchild of Best Friend chef Roy Choi and actor/filmmaker Jon Favreau and is inspired by the 2014 film Chef that Favraeu starred in and Choi co-produced. Most of the short take-out menu is inspired by the film, including those “perfect” grilled cheese and Cubano sandwiches. For the the Super Bowl, Choi created a new addition to install in the nacho recipe cannon.
“Vegas does nothing basic,” says Choi. “We thought that a game day nachos platter might be nice, but done Vegas-style with plantain chips and mojo flavors that reflect the Chef Truck.”
Choi’s use of plantain chips as the base for the dish is a simple, genius twist. Toppings include a quickly made, garlic-loaded cheese sauce, adobe pork or roast chicken, and an array of other add-ons like salsa verde, pickled onions and cilantro. Choi’s team makes most of the components by hand, but your favorite store-bought versions of all of the above are A-OK.
Even if you’re a nacho purist (me) who believes that cheese sauce on nachos should come with a warning sign (also me), this is a brilliant recipe. The plantain chips are salty-sweet and don’t immediately buckle under the sauce like so many soggy, mournful tortilla chips. And the garlic butter acts as a makeover for the jarred cheese sauce, giving it an indelible kick alongside the refreshing, punchy garnishes. What’s more, it’s quickly made; the lack of baking simplifies the process. You just need to make the sauce, which takes less than 10 minutes.
Another thing about all that cheese sauce, which Choi says he likes because it reminds him of movie theater nachos, is that it also evokes Las Vegas. “Drenching the nachos in all that cheese sauce is like the Bellagio fountains,” he says. “Touchdown! And, jackpot.”
Tester’s note: The cheese sauce is very forgiving; if you want to add another jar to the mix, go for it. Likewise, if you want to increase the cheesiness you can stir in some shredded sharp Cheddar. You can even skip the step of pureeing, and have little bits of garlic in the sauce.
8 oz. plantain chips
2 and half cups warm Garlic Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)
1 and half cups cubed adobe pork or roast chicken (about 1/3 lb.)
Some or all of the following, for garnish: Diced tomatoes, sliced pickled onions, jalapeños and cilantro
Good quality salsa verde, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Pile the plantain chips on a large plate or platter. Spoon the garlic cheese sauce over and top with the pork or chicken chunks. Garnish with toppings of your choice—diced tomatoes, pickled onions, jalapeños and cilantro. Finish with drizzles of salsa verde and dollops of sour cream.
Garlic Cheese Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 jar (15 oz.) cheese sauce
About one-fourth cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chopped garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened and fragrant but not browned. Whisk in the cheese sauce until smooth. Add enough heavy cream to loosen the sauce to your preferred consistency. Heat just until the sauce simmers. Let cool slightly, then using an immersion blender or a countertop blender, puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Use warm; sauce can be reheated on the stove or in a microwave.
Written by Kate Krader, food editor, Bloomberg.