Recipe: Pork Belly Nachos with Chipotle Aioli and Cilantro Slaw

San Antonio chef James Moore makes a compelling case for the oft-stigmatized single-chip nacho.

Photos: James Moore,

Photos: James Moore, Foodspotting

A San Antonio native son, James Moore has a knack for balancing the bold flavors of his home state with refined techniques he’s learned over the course of a 22-year career. He cooked his way from Tuscany to California—where he developed an interest in Asian styles at Venice’s Wabi Sabi—before he landed back in Texas for a stint at Max’s Wine Dive in San Antonio. These days, he’s executive chef at Boiler House—located inside the Pearl Brewery—where he brings his talents to bear on hearty Texas cuisine like big steaks and game.

Moore’s meaty, Asian-inflected nachos reflect his culinary background, as well his knack for turning big flavors into small bites. To be sure, the single-chip nacho is controversial amongst purists who believe that nachos should come in a big ol’ pile. But since he swaps out tortilla tips for fried wonton wrappers, you know he’s not scared to play by his own rules. Don’t sleep on these bad boys.

Moore says: “I used to run these nachos at Max’s in San Antonio. They were easily one of the best sellers and, while a bit tedious and multi-stepped, well-worth the effort in the end. They actually won me a Giant Fork at the March of Dimes Gala in 2011 for Best Dish.”

The Recipe

Wonton chips
Cut wonton wrappers in half and lightly fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Pork Belly
5 lbs pork belly
2 tbsp each: ground coriander, paprika, cumin, mustard powder, ground fennel, ground black pepper, onion powder
1 qt pineapple juice
1 cup soy sauce
2 cups chicken stock

Rub pork belly with spices and let sit overnight. In a heavy bottom pot, add belly and all liquids. Bring to a boil on the stove, then cover with foil and cook in a 300°F oven for 4 hours, until tender. Remove, let cool, and shred pork. Strain sauce, skim the fat, and reduce by 2/3. Incorporate remaining liquid back into shredded pork meat.

Chipotle aioli
2 egg yolks
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon
1 chipotle chili
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 cups vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor (or whisk in a bowl). Slowly add oil until emulsified and thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Cilantro slaw
1 head red cabbage, shredded
1 ea carrot, shredded
½ bushel cilantro leaves

Combine in a bowl and mix.

Dressing
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 clove garlic
1 fresh jalapeño
1 ea shallot
½ bushel cilantro
4 tbsp chives
1 lime, juiced
½ cup buttermilk
2 ea scallions
½ cup pickled jalapeños
2 tbsp pickled jalapeño brine

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Dress the shredded veggies with enough dressing to coat well.

Final step: Assembly
Assemble the nachos by placing a small dollop of aioli on each individual chip. Top with shredded pork belly, then garnish with dressed slaw and finish with a cilantro leaf.

  • elif

    An important note – Pile Style nachos are reviled among purists, at least in Texas. The classic nacho is done one chip at a time – big ol’ pile = airport, Northerners or often a Western European take on the form. Bravo James, you’re doing it right

  • Just checking

    Beg pardon – 1/2 BUSHEL of cilantro?

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