Every Friday the Nans come over after school and the weekend has begun. We have a menu of things that we do: go out for coffee or ice cream, head to the beach for a swim or surf, take a walk in the forest or play at the park. Whatever we do is book-ended by food. The minute they arrive the cry goes up: “I’m staaaarving”, and five hours later – the chorus repeats. I’ve got things pretty streamlined now – i.e. I have figured out what they like and have stopped trying to introduce their palates to anything new. So, lunch is simple – corn on the cob, hot dogs, chunks of ciabiatta covered in salami and cheese or tuna mousse.
Dinner is a constant reinvention of a series of favourites. God forbid I should go off piste and introduce something new like, oh I don’t know, duck for example: “what’s this brown chicken, it tastes weird. Yuk. I’m not eating it.”
I make a mean guacamole: mothers and grandmothers have been told they don’t even come close. My recipe is simple, and all to taste: 2 ripe avos – but not too ripe: mashed with a fork, a whole lime – squeezed fresh, a glug of bright green olive oil, salt and, for silkiness sake, a tablespoon of good, real, full-fat mayo. Then; the secret ingredient … a couple of shakes of Maggi Fondor.
The kids love pasta, braised ribs and anything with chicken, burgers, pizza, schnitzel and chops, boerewors (farm style sausage) rolls and boiled gammon. So I usually riff on those and try to create something new from time to time.
Enter the MIGHTY NACHO STACK. Everybody loves the Mighty Nacho Stack.
Especially me, because it is dead easy to make. I buy two packets of nacho chips (the plain ones, they pooh-pooh any fancy nonsense on their chips), a hunk of gouda for its melting abilities, those tiny plum tomatoes, red onions, mince (pork and chicken) and canned tomatoes.
Whip up a chunky, not too wet, bolognaise type sauce (we all have our own version – but check out the Gisborne Gourmet’s great recipe). Make a big bowl of the Famous Guac. (as it is known in our house). Then alternate
– a layer of chips
– a layer of meat sauce
– a layer of grated cheese
Repeat until you get the height you want and then whack the whole lot in a hot oven – 200C/350F degrees … until you can see the cheese oozing through the layers.
Now, switch on the grill, grate some more cheese over the top, return the stack to the oven and let it melt and bubble. Some of the chips will get blackened-crispy – but that’s ok
Sides should be the guac., sour cream and a fresh salsa made of salted chopped tomato, red onion and olive oil. Divide the stack into piles, decorate liberally with the sides and get stuck in. The Mighty Nacho Stack must be eaten with your hands so make sure you have plenty of cheap and cheerful paper towels to hand. It may even be worth covering the table with newspaper.
To drink – you need something a little sour to offset the richness of the Mighty. So whip up a pitcher of Innocent Sangria. I make it by macerating pineapple juice and pulp, a glug of ginger syrup, juice of two lemons and a couple of chunks of fresh ginger for a few hours. Then I top it off with dry lemon soda. The kids love it.
As Speedy Gonzalez would say: “andale, andale, arriba, arriba”*.