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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |
When I hear "game day food", my mind conjures up images of things you can eat with your hands. Burgers, sliders, and brats. Spicy, garlicky wings. Sticky Carnitas sprinkled with salt and waiting to be scooped up with a warm corn tortilla. Dips and spreads, both hot and cold, being scooped up with crackers, chips, and crunchy veggies. A baking sheet piled high and wide with crispy tortilla chips smothered with melty cheese, spicy meat, and a plethora of tasty toppings.

And then, when I think about what I want to drink with that type of food, cold bottles of beer inevitably take first place. Beer and messy food (food eaten with your hands is inevitably messy, right) just sort of go hand-in-hand.

But, what if I was to take a spread like that, and set out a few bottles of wine in place of (or alongside) the normal offerings of beer and soda? How would the wine be received? Well, no better place to start testing that out than at  home. With myself.

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |
What brought about these thoughts? Well, Gallo Family Vineyard is sponsoring this week's edition of Sunday Supper, and they've challenged us to come up with some awesome food and wine pairing ideas for the big game. You know me...challenge accepted.

I decided to start with the wine. What variety was I in the mood for? An old favorite like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir? Perhaps something new (to me)? In the end, after pouring over the Gallo Family wine selections, I opted for a varietal that I had not tried before: Red Moscato. White Moscato seems fairly common, and I tried Pink Moscato for the first time over the summer (coincidentally it was Gallo Family, as well, at the Food and Wine Conference), but this was honestly the first time I'd even heard of Red.

Gallo Family Red Moscato is a medium-bodied wine that is sweet, but at the same time refreshing. It's a bit effervescent and lively on the tongue. It has notes of citrus and peach with a blushing berry finish.  It pairs nicely with not only dessert, but also lighter/milder cheeses and here's the good part - SPICY food!

So, with a basic profile in mind, I set to work on the food. We like our spice in this house, and I've had nachos on the brain for a few weeks now, so really, the decision process didn't take long.  Nachos can be made in big batches, and they take minimal work. My favorite thing about them is that you can switch them up and arrive at endless variations.
Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |
To bring that heat-factor into play, I decided to make some spicy pulled pork for topping the chips. Drizzle them all over with some spicy, cumin-scented red salsa, and an easy favorite of mine, Chipotle-Ranch Sauce, and that was all she (I) wrote.

So, how did it work out? Gangbusters! I loved that tingling, refreshing sensation that the wine imparted against the smoky heat of the pork-piled nachos on my tongue. I have visions of a long buffet table lined with trays in do-it-yourself-nacho-train style and various bottles of wine for pairing with whichever toppings you choose. Maybe add some fun little cards with a description and flavor profile of the wine and its recommended pairing. You know, have chicken, beef, pork, and veggie options - and then plan out of a few wines accordingly.

My plans for the big game are in motion! What are yours? Can you imagine substituting wine for your normal beverage of choice...or is wine already on your game day table?

Pulled Pork Nachos
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Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes (+ overnight if making pork in slow-cooker)
Keywords: bake slow-cooker entree snack appetizer pork tortillas

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 16 ounces tortilla chips (homemade or store-bought)
  • 8 ounces Mexican blend shredded cheese (or a combo of good melting cheeses such as Moneterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla or Asadero)
  • few handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • handful of black olives, sliced
  • 16 ounces warm pulled pork (recipe below or your favorite recipe)
  • red blender salsa (add chipotle and heavy on the cumin)
  • Chipotle Ranch Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and then spread the chips out as evenly as possible onto it. Scatter the cheese evenly over the chips. Slide into preheated oven and bake until melted and bubbly, 7-10 minutes.

Immediately scatter with lettuce, avocado, olives, and warm pork. Drizzle with salsa and Chipotle Ranch Sauce.

making the Pulled Pork:
Combine 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, chipotle chile powder, ground cumin, dry oregano, and smoked sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon each roasted ground coriander and ground black pepper to make a rub.

Cut 1-1/2 pounds of pork shoulder into a couple of large chunks, and then rub the paste all over them. Set into a small slow-cooker, cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until fork tender. Lift the pork out into a bowl and pull apart with a fork.

making the Chipotle Ranch Sauce:
Combine your favorite Ranch dressing and essential sweet -n-smoky chipotle paste to taste (as much as you like - I recommend a LOT). This is good in and on so many things.

recommended wine pairing:
Gallo Family Red Moscato, a sweet, medium-bodied wine that is refreshing and slightly effervescent; perfect when stacked up against the heat of the chipotle flavor in these nachos!
Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos |
Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.