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Much better than getting nachos at a football game! The seasoned ground beef was delicious, and I loved the addition of lime. I used 13 oz of beef but kept all of the spices the same. It was a tiny tiny bit too much cayenne for me, but it was still really good. The cheese sauce intrigued me, because it claimed to be gooey, tangy, and smooth. I definitely agree, and it’s really important to whisk constantly. I added some minced pickled jalapeno and salt to the cheese sauce. It thickens as it sits, so turn off the heat a little before you think it’s thick enough. It’s not supposed to be a thick sauce.

Spicy Beef (Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, Cooks Illustrated)


1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound 85% lean ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 medium canned chipotle chile, chopped + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (I used ground chipotle chili powder)
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons juice from1 lime


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, cayenne, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook until fragrant. Add the beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat into smaller bits with a wooden spoon and scraping the skillet bottom to prevent scorching.

Add the tomato paste, sugar, chile, and adobo sauce and cook until the paste begins to darken. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium low heat until the mixture is nearly dry. Stir in the lime juice and place the mixture onto a towel lined plate.

Serious Eat’s Cheese Sauce for Fries and Nachos

Serves 4-6, makes 1 1/2 cups


  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar and pepper Jack—see note), grated on large holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons Franks Red Hot or other hot sauce


Add cheese and cornstarch to large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer to medium saucepan. Add 1 cup evaporated milk and hot sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with whisk until melted, bubbly, and thickened (about 5 minutes). Mixture will look thin and grainy at first but will thicken and come together after heating. Thin to desired consistency with additional evaporated milk. Serve immediately with fries, tortilla chips, burgers, or hot dogs.


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