Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce

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Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce are for the serious nacho connoisseur! Layers of Cuban Sandwich inspired ingredients are smothered in a creamy, better-for-you nacho cheese sauce. 

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce | iowagirleats.com

Next month is pork month for Join My Journey (Iowa is the largest pork producing state in the country!) so to prepare I was able to visit one of my favorite BBQ joints in central Iowa a few weeks ago that pays homage to the pig unlike any other. Jethro’s

I’ve documented Ben’s and my trips to Jethro’s countless times on the blog – their pulled pork is to die for  – so you can imagine how excited I was to go behind of the scenes and see how the largest independent purchaser of pork in the state does their thang, so to speak. I even forced the owner to take a picture with me on my iPhone. Can you say starstruck? Anyway, to say I left inspired is an understatement. Check out the Join My Journey blog to read all about my visit!

In the meantime, as I mentioned, I left inspired to cook some pork. The day after my visit I purchased a couple thick-cut Iowa chops to throw on the grill, and then decided to develop a serious nacho recipe using not one, but two types of pork. Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce is a serious nacho connoisseur’s nacho. Amateurs need not apply!

But seriously do. These babies are ridiculous. Look at that cheese sauce!!!

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce | iowagirleats.com

Cuban-spiced pork is slow cooked in citrus juice then shredded and piled high atop homemade tortilla chips. Cuban sandwich-inspired ingredients like chopped deli ham, chopped pickles, red onion and cilantro join the party then the whole thing is absolutely smothered in a a rich and luxurious creamy nacho cheese sauce that is way, way lighter than traditional cheese sauce. Like I said…ridiculous!

Speaking of creamy nacho cheese sauce, the water park we visited last weekend had a food stand akin to most water park food stands, stocked with candy, pop, and dunh dunh dunhhhhh nachos. With that radioactive-colored orange cheese sauce. So good it hurts. Literally. I don’t think there’s a smidgen of room left for real cheese amongst all the chemicals in the stuff, but wow, don’t we all have great memories of digging into a big plastic clam shell of nuclear nachos at the pool in the summertime, half the chips falling apart before they reached the cheese because they got all wet from your dripping, pool-soaked fingers? I sure do.

Anyway, after spying the nachos at the water park I was inspired to create my own nacho cheese sauce using The Laughing Cow® Light Creamy Swiss cheese wedges. Best decision of my life. I cannot tell you how thick, creamy and decadent this cheese-sauce was. I am captial O-bsessed. You will be too.

Now, Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce ain’t diet food, but lets look at the facts. We baked our own tortilla chips instead of using store-bought, fried chips, and made our own creamy nacho cheese sauce vs using cheez whiz, or whatever the heck they call that stuff. That’s good enough for me!

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce | iowagirleats.com

Start with a 1-1/2 – 2lb boneless pork butt (also called pork shoulder.) I bought a 4lb roast then cut it in half and froze the other half for another day. Trim the pork of any large pieces of excess fat then cut into big hunks and place inside your crock pot. I used a 6-quart crock pot but you can use a smaller one for this recipe.

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To the pork add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and cumin, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 4 smashed then peeled garlic cloves.

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Next add the juice of 1 lime and 1 orange. Lift up each piece of pork to make sure some of the juices run underneath.

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Pop a lid on top then cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the meat shreds easily. Shred then measure out 2 cups to use for the nachos and then refrigerate or freeze the rest. You shouldn’t have too much leftover though – especially after all the nibling you’ll be doing while you shred it up. The flavors in this  juicy pork are incredible.

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When the pork has about 30 minutes left to cook, stack 6 corn tortillas on top of each other then cut into quarters with a sharp knife.

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Place the quarters onto two baking sheets then spray the tops with nonstick spray, sprinkle with salt, then bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through. You can absolutely make these chips ahead of time – just let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Finally, make the lighter nacho cheese sauce. The star of the dish, in my opinion! Swiss cheese is traditionally used in the Cuban Sandwiches these nachos are based on, so of course I used the The Laughing Cow® Light Creamy Swiss cheese wedges. A whole wheel, aww yeah.

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Start by scalding 7 Tablespoons milk in a small saucepan over medium heat (that means heat until just before boiling) then add 1 cheese wedge at a time, smashing with the back of a spatula to help incorporate it into the milk. It helps to break the wedges up into a few hunks before adding.

Now, the cheese won’t fully melt right away, it will kind of break up into little pieces, but just keep smashing and stirring. The sauce will come together around the 6th wedge and it will be truly glorious! After the eighth wedge, switch to a whisk and whisk until smooth.

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Mustard is also a typical condiment on Cuban Sandwiches, so whisk in 1/4 teaspoon dried/ground mustard after all the cheese is incorporated. If the sauce is too thick for your liking at this point, add 1 additional Tablespoon milk. I didn’t need it but you might.

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Assembly time! Layer half the baked tortilla chips in the bottom of a 12″ skillet then top with 1 cup shredded pork, and 1/4 cup chopped deli ham. You won’t be baking the nachos so if you don’t have a skillet, no sweat. Just assemble on a plate or platter. I just think the skillet makes ‘em look festive.

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Next layer on 1 chopped pickle spear, lots of chopped red onion, and half the cheese sauce.

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Repeat the layers one more time then top with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and DIG IN!!

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce | iowagirleats.com

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce

Print this recipe!

serves 3 as a main, 6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
1-1/2 – 2lbs boneless pork butt (also called pork shoulder,) trimmed of large pieces of fat then cut into big hunks
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup milk, any kind
1 package (8 wedges) The Laughing Cow® Light Creamy Swiss cheese
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 cup chopped deli ham
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 pickle spears, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for topping

Directions:

  1. Place pork into the bottom of a crock pot (I used a 6-quart) then add seasonings, lime juice, orange juice, and garlic. Lift up each piece to make sure juice runs under it then cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the meat shreds easily. Remove meat then shred, measure out 2 cups and set aside. Refrigerate or freeze leftover pork for another dish/day.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees then stack tortillas and cut into quarters with a sharp knife. Place wedges onto two baking sheets then spray tops with nonstick spray and then season with salt. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Chips will crisp as they cool. (Can be made ahead of time – cool completely then store in an airtight container.)
  3. Scald all but 1 Tablespoon milk in a small saucepan over medium heat then add cheese wedges one at a time, stirring and smashing with a spatula until nearly incorporated before adding the next one (cut wedges into thirds to make melting easier.) Add mustard powder then switch to a whisk and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add remaining Tablespoon milk if sauce is too thick.
  4. Layer half the chips into the bottom of a 12″ skillet then top with half the pork, half the ham, half the chopped red onion, half the pickles, and half the cheese sauce. Repeat layers one more time then top with chopped cilantro and serve. If you don’t have a skillet, arrange nachos on plates.

 

These nachos are easy enough for everyday, but festive for a party. Bust out a big ol’ platter at your next card night (do people still do card nights?? I want an invite…) and watch your guest’s eyes light up. I know mine would. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce | iowagirleats.com

If you like the looks of these nachos, check out my Hawaiian Pulled Pork Skillet Nachos with Pineapple Guacamole!

I am an official spokesperson for The Laughing Cow® in 2014. While I receive compensation for participation as a brand advocate, opinions are my own.

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Comments

  1. I love making own corn chips! people think it’s super fancy… oh if they only new how easy it was!!

  2. Real food is always better than fake, chemical food, no matter what the calorie count! This looks so interesting!

    • Matthias 05.04.2014

      Sorry to say: But there is nothing ‘real’ about spreadable cheese wedges… :-(

      • Kristin 05.05.2014

        It’s simply a blend of soft cheeses – the ingredient list is actually great! :)

  3. These sound absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to try them out!

  4. These look so good. I think my favorite part is the pickle topping. :)

  5. Aubry 04.30.2014

    I too am a lover of Nachos, my boyfriend came to the realization one day that , I make nachos a lot haha. I love all your different variations and can’t wait to try this version asap.

  6. Hello!

    Your pork is really popping! And who doesn’t love pork? Other than my husband.

    Gimme some pork love. Put me in coach.

  7. LOVE that you used laughing cow cheese! I buy it at Costco cause we love it so much. These nachos look awesome, pinned!!

  8. i could get behind these in a big way.

  9. Kelly Mitchem 04.30.2014

    These look wonderful!

  10. Jackie 04.30.2014

    You had me at nacho…

  11. Whitney 04.30.2014

    And I’m officially starving. and I just ate breakfast. the CHEESE!!!

  12. I like how you bake your tortilla and make your own chips! This looks so amazing! I’ve never made nachos in a crockpot before!

  13. Pauline 04.30.2014

    Holy Guacamole! Like I didn’t think you could do any better than those WONDERFUL Hawaiian Pulled Pork Nachos with Pineapple Guacamole. These look fabulous and I love the idea of the lighter cheese sauce using Laughing Cow. Can’t wait to try them.

  14. Allison 04.30.2014

    I used to work at Jethro’s and I could never resist their nachos. The white cheddar cheese sauce they used was to die for.

  15. These look absolutely amazing, Kristin – my mouth is watering!

  16. I’m pretty sure I made googly eyes at my computer screen when this recipe popped up!!

  17. amelia 04.30.2014

    I wish you could buy the laughing cow cheese in giant block form :) I hate opening all the little wedges.

  18. Johnna Green 05.01.2014

    These look amazing. I am going to find an excuse to make these this weekend. You should try this amazing Chicken Tostada recipe

    http://www.inallofhersplendor.com/2014/02/27/easy-chicken-tostadas/

  19. […] Crock Pot Cuban Nachos with light nacho cheese from Iowa Girl Eats- I have these bookmarked to make ASAP.  Healthier, easy and crazy good. Check check check. […]

  20. Caroline 05.01.2014

    Okay seriously….you are the Nacho Queen! You’re recipes are the bomb. Nachos are pretty much a food group in my house so we naturally love IGE!

  21. stephanie 05.01.2014

    Um. OMFG!

  22. Heather 05.01.2014

    I have never really used Laughing Cow, but it looks so creamy and gooey! I must buy some for the weekend and a pack of corn tortillas, yum!

  23. Totally drooling over here! :) Can’t wait to make these! Pork is my favoritee meat to make and eat and when you turn it into nachos it can’t get much better than that!

  24. Lizzie 05.01.2014

    This is brilliant!!

  25. Maggie 05.01.2014

    This looks so good! Can’t wait to try it!

  26. um – you’ve got to be kidding me. GET IN MY BELLY.

  27. Debtgirl 05.01.2014

    Did I tell you how good this looks! Pickles! My fave! I eat so many of them and olives!!!

  28. […] redo: Cashew-Less Vegan Queso. Speaking of lighter nacho cheese sauce … You’ll never guess what ingredient Dana @ The Minimilast Baker used to make her […]

  29. barb 05.03.2014

    Made pork recipe today to fill tacos instead nachos so I have no opinion on cheese sauce. Anyway, pork was little bland to my taste. Next time I will definitely go more aggressive with seasonings (as increase amount of oregano and cumin, not salt) and adding sliced onion would also improve the taste. Yes, the recipe is a “keeper” only next time I’ll add my touch to it.

  30. […] Crockpot Cuban Nachos with Lighter Nacho Cheese Sauce via Iowa Girl Eats […]

  31. Sara 05.05.2014

    Made this with chicken instead of pork. I increased the cumin a little bit and cooked it on low for 4.5 hours. Nice and moist! Perfect taco filling!

  32. Caitlin 05.06.2014

    I saved this recipe and made it for Cinco de Mayo (in spite of the “Cuban” influence). I added some extra milk and some shredded Swiss cheese to amp up the sauce a little, they turned out so good! They were a big hit with company as well!!

  33. Melissa 05.11.2014

    Made these for Mother’s Day…Yummy!!

  34. Mackenzie 05.13.2014

    Can you prepare the pork the day before and keep in the refrigerator, or is that not recommended?

    • Kristin 05.13.2014

      Totally fine! The meat freezes really well too, FYI!

      • Mackenzie 05.13.2014

        Thanks! Can’t wait to try this

  35. […] really, could these Cuban Pork Nachos be any more […]

  36. Rachael 05.21.2014

    So glad to have this recipe! Here in Hawaii, meat can be crazy expensive, with one exception being the pork roasts at Costco ($2.29/pound and usually quite lean). I love Cuban food, and can’t wait to try this!

  37. […] Thursday – Crock Pot Cuban Nachos by Iowa Girl Eets […]

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