Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who needs chips?

Not me. Okay, often I do need chips. Ridgy potato ones I can dip in ketchup. Don't judge me!

But not for my nachos.

How does one have nachos without chips? (Hint: look at the title of the blog.)

The thing about nachos is this. I love them. I think they are a great way of trying new things because you can be kind of selective about it. I really don't like black olives, for example. But my husband does. So when we get nachos, he eats the olives and jalapenos. I eat the...well, there's really nothing he won't eat on there, but you get the point. And if I accidentally end up with some black olive? There's probably enough salsa and sour cream to mask it.

But that brings us to my LEAST favorite part of the nacho experience. If you don't want your chips to turn to moosh, you have to eat them pretty quick. I can't do this. I eat really slow. I've gotten very used to being able to use a spoon for my nachos by the time I get to the bottom.

Another problem, particularly with kids, is the idea of equity. My husband tries to "save" me by helping me eat my nachos. Usually after he's eaten whatever he got for his own meal or snack. And somehow, he misses the stink-eye he's getting as he innocently scoops up my cheesy goodness.

Kids want fairness. They want to know that Alex didn't get three more chips than Logan, and that Rachel didn't get all the cheese while the boys get naked chips.

Nothing solves these problems like a pizza.

A sturdy crust can hold up to the drippier ingredients of a good nacho. The sour cream, guacamole, salsa, even chili. (We've already proven that with our chili dog pizza.) None of them will leave a pizza crust weak and limp the way they will a thin, crispy chip.

Pizza is easily divided with mathematical precision. No counting out exactly how many chips each kid gets or "MOM! He got more than me!!!" And the cheese is spread in an even blanket over the whole pie, not just on the top layer of chips. Is there anything more disappointing than having half a dozen ooey-gooey delicious nachos, and then a plate of over-salted, usually half-stale chips?

Also, this lets you use real cheese more effectively. I love real cheese on my nachos. Downside? It doesn't stick well and pulls off like the celophane wrapper on a slice of process-cheese food. Melted cheese sauce sticks well, but it doesn't have the same flavor for me.

This is also a flexible recipe. You can make the simple cheese and chile pie, cut it up and let eveyrone add his favorite toppings. This can make it even easier to encourage a picky eater to try something new because there's no commitment. You don't have to try a whole piece of black olive pizza, only to have to pull off the black olives you don't like after the first bite. You can put just one black olive on the tip, and if you don't like it, you're done with it.

Nacho Pizza

1 pizza crust
1 c. shredded mild cheddar
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 small can mild green chiles
Salsa, sliced black olives, jalapeno peppers, guacamole, chili, onions, shredded lettuce, refried beans, sour cream, cilantro, chopped tomato

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.

Combine cheeses and sprinkle over pizza crust. Scatter chiles evenly. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and faintly golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing, or cheese will be too gooey. Serve with remaining ingredients, and let everyone top their own nacho with exactly what they want.

Extra Extra!

Tasty Tidbit – In 1943, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya first covered chips with cheese and chiles for a group of Air Force officers’ wives lunching in Mexico, just across the border from Texas’ Fort Duncan Air Base. The maitre’ d, Anaya couldn’t find the cook to make something for the ladies, and so he whipped up the dish and named it Nacho’s Especiales. (Source: San Antonio Express-News)

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