It’s two years after we started dating, and I’m standing in the kitchen making my mom’s chicken nachos. These nachos are a staple in our household—Friday night food like homemade pizza or something off the grill in the summer. One tray used to suffice, but my sister and I can make a pretty solid dent in one with just the two of us these days.
When my sister was little, she hated melted cheese. Grilled cheese, lasagna and fondue were all off-limits as far as she was concerned. The rest of us found her hatred of all melted dairy products somewhat perplexing (except for the fondue thing. I guess it’s not that weird for an eight year old to dislike fondue), but generally tolerated her one firm culinary dislike. There were only two real exceptions to my sister’s no melted cheese rule: our mom’s delicious macaroni and cheese and her equally fantastic chicken nachos.
Because here’s the thing about these chicken nachos: they’re just no good without the melted cheese on them.
So, it’s two years after we started dating and Dan and I are standing in my very first kitchen. It’s a student apartment kitchen, which means there’s just enough room for two of us to fit comfortably in it, so long as the cabinets, oven and fridge are all closed and nobody moves around too much. Dan’s been watching SNL, which in 2010 means that he’s busy walking around the apartment and throwing things on the GROUND!
I see him eyeing the bowl of grated Monterey jack.
“Listen, buster, you can throw that cheese on the ground, but if you do, you’re going to march right out that door and buy some more.”
And then he marched right out that door and bought some more cheese. Because these chicken nachos just aren’t any good without them.
(In all fairness, he did just mean to gently toss the bowl on the ground. He was as surprised as I was when the small kitchen wound up covered in grated Monterey jack. But as my uncle says, if you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the piper. Or, you know, if you want to throw a bowl on the ground, you’ve got to be prepared for the cheese to get all over the kitchen.)
My Mom’s Chicken Nachos (with melted cheese)
Ingredients – Serves 3-4
1 bag tortilla chips
2 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 yellow onion, chopped
Red pepper flakes (if desired)
2 red bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 6 oz package Monterey Jack, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Poach your chicken breasts. Let’s be serious: I mean boil your chicken breasts. But boiling chicken (or anything other than pasta) is verboten in the food world, so let’s say poach your chicken. Add your chicken to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for about fifteen minutes. Let sit in the hot water for at least another five, or until you’ve finished all your prep work. Then take the chicken breasts out and let cool.
2. Saute the garlic and one to two shakes of red pepper flakes (if using) in a little olive oil for about 30 seconds. Add the onions, peppers and diced tomato and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8ish minutes.
3. Cut up your now-cool chicken into pieces about the size of the pieces of pepper (maybe a little bigger.) Add the chicken to the garlic/tomato/onion/pepper mixture, and mix all together. Taste and see if you think it needs more salt. Add more salt or pepper as desired.
4. Spread about ¾ of a package of tortilla chips out on a cookie sheet. You want the whole sheet to be covered, so use as many chips as you need to. Then spread the chicken/pepper mixture over it and top with generous amounts of (soon to be melted) cheese.
5. Bake for about ten minutes, until the cheese is oozy and melted and even a melted-cheese-hating little girl can barely wait to get her hands on it.
Carbs: 130 g
Carbs per serving: 43 (if three people finish the sheet off) or 32 (if you’ve got more restrained dinner companions and one sheet feeds four)