As I get older, I can’t deny that eating is a tradition on many holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. You probably will soon or have recently sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, hopefully with your family and some close friends. I hope you enjoy this time and want to warn you that Christmas will be here almost before all the dishes are dried and put away.
This recipe is a treat anytime, but it seems to shine around Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s a fun recipe, best suited as a snack for family gatherings and parties, but it really shines when served straight from the oven at halftime of your favorite football game.
December is a great time for sportsmen in the Carolinas. For the most part, the temperature is moderate and the weather good. Those last few days of vacation can be taken to hunt or fish almost anywhere. Somehow, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter seem to know when the calendar flips over to January and the new year begins with colder, rougher weather.
The bottom line for December is that Christmas is approaching, and a week later, we’ll flip the calendar to begin 2020. However, in the meantime, there is plenty for sportsmen to do, time to be with families and celebrate the birth of Jesus, and folks are going to eat. Give this a try as a snack at a family gathering or while watching sports on TV. Most people have liked it and hopefully you and yours will also.
Sausage, shrimp nachos
This recipe begins with venison sausage and shrimp, both of which can be gathered by sportsmen. Deer hunting is a favorite of many, and this is a great way to use some venison ground that’s been into sausage. If you don’t have any venison sausage or prefer the taste of pork, pork sausage works well here, too. I even have one friend who doesn’t eat pork or venison but makes this with turkey sausage.
Hopefully, you caught some shrimp in a cast net this fall and put them aside in the freezer, or you can purchase some at your favorite seafood dealer. Use larger shrimp, at least 25 to 30 count, as you will be cutting them up. Don’t use imported shrimp.
You will notice that jalapenos are listed as an optional ingredient. I like to chop a few and cook them with the sausage, then slice one or two to spread over the nachos. I made this batch for a gathering where no one else appreciated the flavor of jalapenos, so they were not used in the recipe. However, you can be assured I had a bowl on the side. I also only used a light sprinkling of blackened seasoning on the shrimp. As with any recipe, feel free to add or reduce any spice or ingredient to your personal taste. Some like it hot — and some not!
How to make it
Use your favorite nacho chips, but I recommend Trader Joe’s Salted Tortilla Chips, made with stone ground white corn. Even though they are salted, they only have 50 mg of sodium in a serving of 10 chips. This is good, as there will be lots of sodium in other ingredients. These are thicker chips and don’t get soggy as quickly with the queso and other ingredients as many tortilla chips. Some of my friends like to add a little salsa, and the crisp chips handle this much better.
You can cook this directly on the pan or a cookie sheet, but it can be a little messy and difficult to clean up. Covering the pan or sheet with aluminum foil helps greatly with cleanup and provides foil to wrap any leftovers to be warmed again.
Cooking the shrimp in the sausage drippings helps give them an extra burst of flavor. Be sure not to overcook them. Once the opaque is gone and they are pink, they’re ready to go.
If you leave some of these nachos in a warmer for Santa, you might wake up Christmas morning with a lot of unexpected presents under your tree. Enjoy!
- 1 pound venison sausage (loose or country style)
- 1 pound shrimp
- 1 large bag plain tortilla chips
- 2 large roma tomatoes
- 2 bundles scallions
- 1 container queso cheese
- 1 package mixed Mexican cheese (7 ounces)
- Blackened seasoning
- Several types of salsa
- Several fresh jalapeno peppers (optional)
Peel and de-vein the shrimp and cut it into approximate 1-inch pieces. Chop the scallions and separate the white bottom from the light-green upper. I don’t use the whole top, only the lighter green part. Chop the tomatoes; I only use the firm outer layer.
Brown the sausage and the white bottom part of the scallions. Sprinkle blackened seasoning on the shrimp pieces. Remove the sausage and save enough sausage drippings to cover the bottom of the frying pan. Sauté the shrimp pieces in the sausage drippings over medium heat, stirring often.
Cover a baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 325. Arrange a full bottom layer of nachos. Sprinkle sausage, shrimp and Mexican cheese on the nachos. Sprinkle lightly with tomato pieces and add several spoons of queso in different areas. This step will also include jalapeno slices if you are using them. Add a second layer of nachos and repeat the previous step. Add a third layer of nachos and repeat step the previous step again, using the remaining tomato pieces and queso, plus adding the green scallion slices. Bake on middle rack until the cheeses and queso have melted. This should take around 10-12 minutes. Be careful not to scorch the tortilla chips.
Serve immediately. It will cool quickly. Have several types of salsa available for those who want to add it. Even if you make this without jalapenos, have some sliced jalapenos in a bowl for those who would like to add them.