Nachos in all their incarnations are a hit for any party, but the Red Lobster version with its mellow cheeses and flavorful shrimp are a great twist on the Mexican-inspired classic. Like most nachos, they start with a base of crisp tortilla chips, but the tangy pico de gallo and tender shrimp make it special. When creating your own version at home, try your hand at making your own garnish or find it in a jar at your supermarket.
The shrimp are the centerpiece of the dish, so if possible, find fresh ones, preferably gulf shrimp. Frozen, raw gulf shrimp are also good. Whether fresh or frozen, raw shrimp take so little time to cook that it’s worth boiling them yourself instead of buying pre-cooked seafood. Peel and de-vein the shrimp if needed and dunk them in boiling water with a teaspoon or two of crab boil or bay seasoning. Even large shrimp will cook in a few minutes; small shrimp may need only two or three minutes to boil. Remove the shrimp from the water and plunge them immediately into a bowl of icy water to stop the cooking immediately; otherwise, they will overcook and become rubbery.
Pico de gallo sounds more exotic than it is. If you have peppers, onions, cilantro and tomatoes on hand, you have all the ingredients you need for it. Dice the vegetables finely and mix them together. Salt and pepper the dish. Add a dusting of garlic powder if desired. You can also choose a high-quality jarred brand of the popular relish.
While the shrimp are cooling, grate a cup of mild cheddar cheese and half a cup of jack cheese. Mix the two over low heat and stir in three tablespoons of cream cheese and enough milk to give the mixture the right texture. Stir in some diced jalapenos or some cayenne pepper if you like a little heat in your nachos. By the time you’re done, the shrimp should be warm but not hot enough to continue cooking.
Heat tortilla chips in the oven for a few minutes and top them with the cheese mixture. Arrange the shrimp on the chips and garnish the plate with pico de gallo. Top the nachos with a scoop of sour cream and a slice of jalapeno peppers.