This post is partly about poop.
So, I'm about to tell you about the most ridiculously good chicken nacho recipe ever but first, Lucy's poop. See, yucky and yummy. Something for everyone.
Lucy is going through some weird stage with her poop. It's like she has fallen in love with - no, more like grown weirdly attached to - her poop. If you have the good fortune to be at our house when she takes a poop, she will make you and everyone else drop what they are doing and gather round the toilet in her bathroom and examine the shape and size of her poop.
And then, she beams as if she has done something truly outstanding, like found proof of the existence of God or cured cancer or something.
The other day, she said, "Look Mommy! It has a hook on the end!" and she was correct - there was a cute little hook on the end and it looked a little like a Cobra eating a bear eating a salmon with a hook in his mouth and so I said, "Wow Lucy! That looks like a cobra eating a beat eating a salmon with a hook in his mouth. That is a great poop."
And I meant it. It was truly a great poop.
Lucy also insists that no one flush the toilet containing her poops until her father has seen them and examined them and then commented on their unique qualities. God help us when David doesn't come home straight from the office, the bathroom gets locked up until the viewing to prevent any errant flushing.
Frankly, I think this is all David's fault because he gets very excited when she does a poop and the bigger it is, the more excited he gets and yells, "Crikey! That's a big one, Lucy! Well done!" and it sounds all Crocodile Dundee with his Australian accent. And Lucy gets proud and blushes and they like ceremoniously salute it as she flushes it off to sea.
It's a real father/daughter moment. Not the kind they write about in parenting books, but a moment all the same. We aren't fussy around here.
Yesterday, Lucy pooped a manatee kissing a baboon in a San Francisco trolley car and today it was a giant worm sleeping on top of a wombat while watching clouds pass by overhead. Then, Edie - not to be left out of anything - got in on the act and pooped a crocodile swimming in a swamp eating a rhutagaba and a rhododendron.
Sadly, everyday I can't wait to see what my kids poop out. I anticipate it's coming, these wacky poop characters. Will it be a snake or a wild boar? Will it be eating eagles talons or chicken's feet? It's like a potpourri of possibility.
Life has regained some of it's surprise and spontaneity and creativity...in the guise of defecation. No matter what's happening, at least twice a day now, we gather round the potty, reading the poop. As a family.
It's messed up, yes. But also nice in an odd sort of way.
Okay, so just when you thought you would never eat again...
I give you the best chicken nachos on the planet. Now, bear in mind, I'm not a nachos lover. They always look goopy, with all this mounded food on a plate and if you are eating them, you can bet there is a TV nearby with sports playing, a table full of co-workers who are as boring as communion wafers and drunk on their second glass of Chardonnay and we are all at TGI Fridays being served barely adequate bar food by an ill-trained college student named Amber.
See? Nachos not so good for me.
But our friends Missy and David across the hall were having a holiday party and David was woefully short of chicken dishes and he asked for chicken nachos. I made a huge mounding platter full and it was gone, like every morsel gone. And strangers kept coming up to me and asking me about how I prepared it. So, if you have a party where nachos are acceptable, this is the nacho dish to make. This was originally an Emeril Lagasse recipe, but I've re-worked it so you can eliminate some steps, make some of it ahead and keep your chips from getting soggy.
It's well worth all the effort.
Shredded Chicken Nachos with Pico De Gallo
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
For the Chicken:
(Make ahead in the morning. Store chicken in fridge in juices to retain moisture)
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
* 4 teaspoons chili powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups thinly sliced onions
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
* 3 tablespoons of butter
Set a wide-mouthed 3-quart saucepan with lid over medium-high heat and add the oil to the pan. Season the chicken pieces with the chili powder and salt and toss the evenly coat. Add the chicken to the pan and sear for 3 minutes per side. They should have a nice crispy, dark exterior. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and a hunk of butter and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Pour the chicken stock over the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about an hour and a half.
Take the chicken out and shred it on a platter. Spritz chicken with lime juice. Store chicken in stock in fridge.
For the Pico de Gallo:
(Make ahead in the morning. Store covered in fridge)
* 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
* 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
* 1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
* 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Red Hot Pepper Sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients and either pulse the ingredients until the salsa is of uniform consistency but still chunky (abut 7 pulses) or use a pilon and do it by hand. (I do it by hand and it is always chunky and thick and beautiful). Transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge until you're ready to serve the nachos.
For the Nachos:
(Do right before serving)
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups milk
* 1 small can chopped green chiles, drained
* 4 green onions, finely chopped, greens and all
* 2 cups grated sharp yellow Cheddar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 8 to 10 cups corn tortillas
* 4 cups shredded chicken
* 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1/4 cup green onions finely sliced
* 3/4 cup sour cream, for garnishing
* 1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapenos, for garnishing
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the flour to color. While whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream. Add the green chiles and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add the Cheddar, salt, and cayenne pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Cover and remove from the heat.
In a large, ovenproof shallow casserole, put half of the chicken and half of the Monterey Jack cheese. Then, layer it again, more chicken, more Monterey Jack cheese. Do another layer if you have chicken and cheese. Pour the hot cheese sauce over the chicken, then evenly spread the remaining grated Monterey Jack over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the nachos are heated through, 8 to 10 minutes.
While cheese is in oven, put chips out on a platter. (If you bake the chips with the cheese, they will get soggy). Take casserole out of oven when cheese is all melty and pour over chips. Garnish with the sliced green onions, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, spring onions and cilantro. Serve immediately with the Pico de Gallo alongside.