That joke, no doubt told to me ages ago by my friend R. (who has a stash of corny jokes at the ready) still makes me giggle. But then, I'm a nut.
All this as a way of introducing a dinner born of disaster last week. I was sick with that icky cold that's been making its way around San Francisco, and Mr. Food Musings called from the office to ask what he could bring home for supper.
"Just get a roasted chicken," I replied, "and some broccoli." (With my stuffy nose it came out more like "and sub broccoli".) And then I lay back on the sofa, right hand flung against my hot forehead in a dramatic gesture I'm sure he could hear, if not actually see.
When he came home I was feeling a tad better, well enough to throw some water in a pan and put the broccoli on to steam. And then I retired back to the sofa till dinner was ready. We read in silence for a while, and he went to check on the broccoli once. "It needs a few more minutes," he predicted. He returned to the kitchen a few minutes later.
"It's ruined," he pronounced solemnly from the hallway.
I looked up. "Ruined? What's ruined?" I asked.
"The broccoli. It's ruined. The pan didn't have enough water in it and it all burned off."
With a sigh, I heaved myself off my sick bed and went into the kitchen to have a look. Though the broccoli was done to perfection, the nasty odor of burnt metal was unmistakable. We'd have to throw it away.
"Do we have any more vegetables?" he asked. And the sad, sad truth, folks, one I am ashamed to admit, is that we did not. Not even frozen peas. Our cupboard was bare.
Though he offered to go to the store and get another green vegetable, I was starving and couldn't bear to wait. So I started rooting around in the refrigerator to see if a meal could be crafted from the store-bought roasted chicken. I saw scallions. I saw yogurt. I saw orange juice and leftover macaroni noodles. I was beginning to despair when some tortilla chips caught my eye. In that instant, like someone's life passing before their eyes in a series of rapid-fire images, the ingredients hiding in the pantry and the fridge exploded into my mind.
"We'll have nachos!" I pronounced confidently, and set about chopping scallions and jalapenos, opening a can of black beans, grating cheese and cutting chicken off the bone. As the nachos sat under the broiler, I opened a jar of salsa and set the table. And that was that. Disaster averted. Order restored to the universe. Lemons turned into lemonade.
Last Minute Chicken Nachos
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Dump out enough tortilla chips to cover it. Layer a can of drained black beans, a cup of chopped, cooked chicken, 2 chopped scallions and 1 1/2 cups of cheese (I used cheddar and mozzarella) on top. Broil for 5-7 minutes, till cheese is melted and chicken and beans heated through. Serve topped with salsa.