Nachos de Pato

Using ground duck and fresh toppings, you can put your own spin on this popular and versatile dish

© Holly Heyser

Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya invented his namesake dish in Mexico nearly 80 years ago. These days, nachos can take many forms and are exceedingly customizable. I recommend using this recipe as a place to start. When avocados are in season and available at a reasonable price, I'll add extra guacamole or sliced avocado. During the summer months, I top my nachos with plenty of vine-ripened homegrown tomatoes. Other popular toppings include black beans or pinto beans, black olives, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions, lettuce, and cilantro.

When choosing duck breast fillets to use with this recipe, opt for puddlers when possible. If you only have darker-fleshed divers or sea ducks, brine the breast fillets and then marinate them for 12 to 24 hours in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper before grinding.

Combining ground duck breasts with fattier meats and seasonings allows you to substitute duck in any recipe that calls for ground domestic meat. Burgers, tacos, meatloaf, meatballs, spaghetti sauce... you get the idea. My favorite sausage to add to the duck meat for this dish is spicy chorizo. Ground pork is another winner that adds just the right amount of fat to the grind.

If you don't have a meat grinder, cut the breast fillets into chunks and place them in the freezer until they're very cold—about an hour. Then pulse them in a food processor until the meat is roughly pea sized. Avoid overprocessing the meat or it will become soft and mushy.

DUCK NACHOS

MAKES: 6 TO 8 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups duck breast fillets, skin removed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup ground pork, spicy pork sausage, or fatty (20–25 percent fat) ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 10- to 12-ounce bag tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Salsa

GUACAMOLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 peeled and pitted ripe medium avocados
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 minced garlic clove

DIRECTIONS

Photo © Holly Heyser

[STEP 1] 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grind duck in a meat grinder or food processor. Then place in a bowl and mix in ground pork, spicy pork sausage, or ground beef. Add cold water, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

[STEP 2] 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground meat mixture and cook until evenly browned, breaking up larger pieces.

[STEP 3] 

Prepare guacamole by placing all ingredients in a bowl and mashing with a fork or whisk until mostly smooth. A few small clumps are fine.

[STEP 4] 

Spread tortilla chips on an oven-safe platter or pan. Distribute cooked meat and cheese over chips and place in preheated oven until cheese is melted.

[STEP 5] 

Top with salsa, guacamole, and other toppings as desired.

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