As a food and kitchen writer, I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to receiving edible items in the mail. I’ve been sent chilled cartons of banana pudding, bottles of rare whiskey, pantry snacks of all shapes and sizes, ice cream, fruit, and even baguettes overnighted from France… and, still, it never ceases to amaze me what you can get in the mail. If a food exists, you can almost certainly have it delivered straight to your home within a couple of days. These days, thanks to gourmet food delivery services like Goldbelly, you can even get high-quality restaurant dishes from around the world, not just the restaurants within the Seamless delivery range of your house. If you want to try pizza from Pizzeria Bianco in Arizona or from Roberta’s in New York City, but you live in, say, Montana, you can have a frozen pie delivered to your door; if you want to taste gumbo from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans or the famous smoked-and-confited lamb shoulder from Zahav in Philly, just smash the order button. Suffice it to say, ordering ‘za while stoned just isn’t the same these days (but considering what ordering food under the influence has gotten me into in the past, that’s probably a good thing).
Now, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to iconic cultural figures within the contemporary food world, nobody stands above Guy Fieri. People love to make fun of my dude’s hair, style, affect, and culinary taste, but IMO he is the greatest to ever do it—a true champion of the food that regular people actually eat—and I’ve always wanted to visit one of his restaurants. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? A masterpiece—I’ve seen literally hundreds of episodes. So, as you might imagine, I was totally mind-blown to find out that his infamous BBQ Trash Can Nachos appetizer—i.e. an extravagant nacho dish that’s built inside of a large metal can, causing it to (sort of) retain its colossal shape when the can is carefully removed—is available on Goldbelly. Friends, I hope you will believe me when I say I arranged for a delivery of that shit immediately.
I’d only seen photos and videos of the Trash Can Nachos, and the dish always appeared to be a masterful, gravity-defying work of physics—a culinary work of art akin to the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or [Googles “famous tower in Furious 7”] the Etihad towers. Like, I get how melted cheese works, but it just never made sense to me how this bad boy actually stayed together. Wouldn’t it stick to the can? How would you warm it up without making the metal super hot to the touch? And, most importantly, could this possibly taste good? To the last question, I had no doubt that the nachos would be, in the vernacular of my hero, “off the chain” and that I’d want to “eat it on a flip-flop.”
When my Goldbelly box arrived at my front door, it was hard to believe that I’d finally punched my one-way ticket to Flavortown. I poured a shot of Santo tequila and turned on some Sammy Hagar (who, coincidentally, I talked to about Guy Fieri a couple weeks ago) and opened the box. Honestly, I was pretty impressed with how it was all packaged—everything came in a sealed, cold-pack-laced box with each of the ingredients in its own little, branded bag. There was a fresh jalapeño and some cilantro that looked like it’d been picked from a garden hours ago; the shredded cheddar also looked super fresh, and there were glass jars of pico de gallo and pickled onion that truly did look straight off the line. I read the directions, and it all started to make sense.
I learned that you basically make a big plate of composed nachos and broil it in the oven, and then you build it inside the can. Whoever came up with that aspect of the recipe deserves a Nobel Prize, IMO—it does mean more work for the nacho recipient, naturally, but it would guarantee better results. I layered chips across a baking sheet, and then topped them with both shredded cheese and cheese sauce, as well as black beans and, obviously, a tremendous amount of Guy’s barbecue sauce, which came in its own retail bottle so I could enjoy more later (a nice touch). I assembled the sheet of nachos with the tweezer-handed precision of a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant. After five minutes of broiling the chips and melting the gooey cheese on top, it was time to trade in my tweezers for a forklift.
Basically, here’s how the can situation works: You pour a small pool of cheese sauce onto the plate to make the nachos stick, sort of like how a building needs a solid foundation (don’t act like you never played SimTower). You then surround the sauce with the can, and begin using a spatula or tongs to shovel the nachos into the can, being careful to press them softly together in order to make it as dense as possible. If you’re a natural Thomas Keller, the amount of nachos on the baking sheet will roughly fill up the whole metal can—it is truly majestic to experience how this all comes together. When it’s full, you add the toppings: sour cream (ah, I forgot to mention the cute, little squeeze bottle of sour cream), pico, pickled onion, cilantro, and fresh jalapeño that you slice up during prep. After sprinkling them on top and beholding my masterpiece in its penultimate form, I took another shot of Santo, raised a single finger in prayer to
the heavens Sammy Hagar, and Very Carefully began removing the can.
What happens next will determine whether you’re a total hack or a genius on the way to a James Beard Award (if you’ve followed Guy’s directions, it should be the latter). Believe me when I say I was absolutely shocked and delighted that the nachos perfectly retained their form… and not just for like five seconds before toppling, but indefinitely. Like, the tower remained. It was amazing. I’ve never attended the grand opening of a major architectural event, but I imagine it is a similar experience.
Here’s the thing, since I’ve buried the lede (that’s how journalists get you to read this far, if you didn’t know): The nachos are absolutely fucking delicious and awesome. Like, they were so good. The barbecue sauce was sweet and a little tangy, and blended perfectly with both kinds of rich cheese; the pickled onions gave a sharp funkiness to the whole thing, and the chips were perfectly savory, underscoring everything with that classic ~*nachos*~ feel. The cilantro and pico were impossibly aromatic and flavorful. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Thomas Keller had actually written this recipe—the dish really hits all the points of punchiness, depth, and umami-like pull that make the best franchise restaurant dishes so addictive (or maybe it’s just all the salt). It was almost as if, oh, I don’t know, this dish was created by food scientists who know exactly how to make people enjoy food and want more of it. In any case, Guy Fieri’s Trash Can Nachos is a masterpiece, and I await my call from the James Beard Foundation.
Now, can somebody tell me where I can order Gordon Ramsay’s beef Wellington and Ina Garten’s enormous cosmo?
Guy Fieri’s BBQ Trash Can Nachos are available for delivery here.
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