Chef Frank Proto's nachos

Griddle Nachos with Carnitas and Avocado Crema

Chef Frank Proto demonstrates his pro approach to chips, cheese and toppings using a griddle.

Epicurious' 4 Levels series features an ICE chef preparing a professional-level comfort food alongside amateur and advanced home cooks and a food scientist. On the latest episode, Chef Frank tops corn chips with shredded pork, pickled vegetables, cheese and avocado crema.

"Nachos are good anytime of day. You should make them for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and late-night snacks," Chef Frank advises.

He shows us how make and fry our own tortilla chips and how to ferment peppers and onions at home. Chef Frank uses yellow corn over flour tortillas for flavor and pork over chicken for tenderness. He demonstrates his pro trick for grating a block of cheese and his pro tips: Cook an animal in its own fat and caramelize cheese.

Watch the video to see Chef Frank's pro approach and get the complete recipe below.


Griddle Nachos

Yields 4-6 servings



  • 2 pounds corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil, to taste
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Cut tortilla into triangles. Heat oil to 350 F and fry until crisp. Season while hot.


  • 3 pounds pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 orange, cut into eighths
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 pounds lard


  1. Place pork, garlic, orange, bay leaves, salt and pepper into a pot and mix together, squeezing the oranges and let marinate overnight.
  2. Put the lard on top of the meat and start to cook on low heat. If it doesn’t cover the pork add water to bring the level up.
  3. Let simmer until the pork is fork tender. About 1 hour.
  4. Drain and shred the meat.
  5. Keep warm in a covered pot.
Pickled Peppers and Onions

Yields 1 1/2 quart


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 jalapenos, sliced in thin rounds
  • 8 red Fresno chilis, sliced in thin rounds
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 small Spanish onions, sliced thin
  • 1 bundle cilantro stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Heat the sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a saucepot. Bring to a simmer. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Put the chilis, onions, garlic, cilantro stems, bay leaf and black pepper in a pickling jar. Top with the cool pickling liquid.
  3. Cover tightly and put in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Avocado Crema

Yields 1 pint


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 limes, juice


  1. Put the avocados, cilantro, scallions and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt. Add the sour cream and blend.


  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups monetary jack cheese, shredded
  • Tortilla chips
  • Carnitas
  • Pickled peppers and onions
  • Avocado crema
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, small dice


  1. Heat the griddle on high.
  2. Lay a layer of cheddar and jack cheese on the hot griddle. Add a layer of tortillas and top with more cheese.
  3. When the cheese gets crisp and caramelized flip the whole mass and let griddle for a few more minutes on the top side.
  4. Roll into a cylinder. Top with the carnitas, peppers and onions, avocado crema and chopped tomatoes.
  5. Serve.

Study with Chef Frank in ICE's Culinary Arts program.

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