By Leslie Kelly

When it comes to gooey, cheesy snacks, nachos rule, right? But there's a new dish that's trending, featuring Tater Tots as the foundation for a whole lot of yummy toppings. The inspiration for this super easy Totchos recipe comes from Memphis, Tennessee, home of the blues, birthplace of rock 'n' roll (Elvis!!) and the smoked swine center of the universe.

Photo by Leslie Kelly

I lived in Memphis for a few years, and ate my weight in barbecue. Pulled pork, ribs, whole hog, it's all good. I ate pork cooked low-and-slow in landmark joints like Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous (Hey, is that

? Could be, he grew up nearby and he's a regular.) I trained to be a competition barbecue judge and learned how to DIY, though my shoulder never came close to as nicely charred on the outside, juicy within as Payne's on Lamar.

Barbecue nachos started showing up at restaurants around M'Town about 15 years ago, chunks of succulent pulled pork embedded in molten cheese, barbecue sauce drizzled on top. What's not to love? I first fell for Totchos a few years ago at Neon Taco at Nacho Borracho on Seattle's Capitol Hill, where slushie margaritas come in flavors like pink guava and avocado. Not sure exactly what prompted me to try and combine these two winners, but I've now made them a dozen times and they get raves every time a tray emerges bubbly from under the broiler.

The key to the whole project is cooking the Tots an extra crispy golden, so they don't sog out under the weight of cheese and barbecue sauce. (Giving all the credit for that technique to my friend, Gavin, who's otherwise known as the Burger King... and Prince of Tots.) Because they're finished under the broiler, Totchos are a perfect party food that you can prep in advance and finish when hungry friends arrive. This is casual enough to serve straight from the pan, depending on just how friendly you feel. Grab a fork, everybody, and dig in. Plates work, too.

I've played around with variations and the best feedback so far comes from Totchos finished with a very lightly dressed cabbage slaw on top. We're talking 2 cups of chopped cabbage tossed in a couple tablespoons of rice vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a couple shakes of salt or barbecue dry rub. (I love the stuff from Rendezvous as well as Hog Wild.) It adds a refreshing crunch and a contrasting tangy note to balance the rich pork.

It's tempting to pile on some guacamole or/and a couple of dollops of sour cream, but don't. Let the smoky flavor of the Memphis-style BBQ shine brightly, y'all.

This quick video walks you through the process:

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