I was absolutely thrilled to hear about the new barbecue nacho kit now shipping from one of my favorite BBQ restaurants in the universe, the world famous Charlie Vergos Rendezvous. Excuse me while I lick the sauce off my fingers before reporting the kit exceeded my very high expectations.
A Little Background
This restaurant in the heart of downtown Memphis is credited with fueling the insatiable appetite for dry rub ribs cooked quickly over charcoal. It's kind of the opposite of low-and-slow barbecue, which the restaurant does, too, with pork shoulder and brisket. That smoky shoulder is the star of the nachos kit, already pulled into bite-size pieces, well-seasoned, but not drowning in sauce. Rendezvous first introduced its crazy popular nachos in 2000 at the ball park where the Memphis Redbirds play. Those cheesy, porky nachos were a huge hit, but not well known outside the region. That's about to change thanks to this ship-able kit.
What's in the Nacho Kit?
When the box arrives, there's no mistaking the promise of its tasty contents. The outside is emblazoned with a photo of the iconic alley entry to Rendezvous, a massive restaurant, where regulars treat veteran waitstaff like family and there's always a chance you might spot a celebrity. Yes, hometown hero Justin Timberlake dines here. Now, when JT's on the road, he can have those famous nachos sent anywhere he's performing. What's extra cool about this kit is that everything in it is made in Memphis, from the Pancho's Cheese Dip to the Brim's Chips and the brilliant Flo's Pickled Jalapenos. All that, along with step-by-step directions on how to put it all together. And some wet wipes for the aftermath.
Just 15 Minutes to BBQ Bliss
Re-heating the shoulder is key, and the directions suggest 30-45 minutes in a 325 degree oven, but instead I used a grill pan over medium high heat. I let the meat sizzle undisturbed for at least five minutes before stirring, and, success, crispy bits of brown that resemble the dark "bark" barbecue pitmasters aim to create. The instructions also offer the microwave as an option to reheat, but I'm gonna stick with the grill pan in the future.
First Meat, Then Cheese
While the pulled pork is heating, arrange the chips on a platter, and warm the cheese sauce. The instructions suggest serving at room temp, but I nuked it in the microwave for one minute and stirred it. Then, I heaped the pork on top of the chips. The directions suggest 1/3 pound for the entire pan, but I went LARGE and piled about a pound of meat on top. (There was still plenty leftover to make some amazing sandwiches.) The cheese was evenly poured on top, followed by a drizzle of the restaurant's excellent barbecue sauce. The only criticism I have, and, I admit to operator error: I didn't discover the dry rub seasoning until later, tucked behind some cardboard in the kit. That should have been sprinkled on top. The final touch, Flo's Pickled Jalapenos, are sweeter than your typical jalapenos from a jar and that's thanks to chef Felicia Suzanne's grandmother's genius recipe. They're totally addicting.
Big Thumbs Up!
I assembled the kit in the Allrecipes Kitchen, and invited a crowd of hungry onlookers to dive in. Some opted to scoop out a serving, but I like the communal sharing, finger food approach. Each bite prompted an audible "mmmmm!" from all the tasters. Actually, I'm surprised I could hear anything because I was blissed out, "mmmmm-ing" loudly myself. I've eaten the nachos before in the restaurant -- Memphis was my home for a few years, and I sure do miss it -- so I was thrilled that this traveling version measured up. It's $99, which includes shipping, and feeds 8-10.