Serious Eats: Recipes

Super Bowl Snacks: Loaded Baked Potato Potato Chip Nachos

My forays into the world of creative junk food have not always been successful. Let's face it: I'm a girls' girl usually found wielding a baguette in one hand and a bottle of Champagne in the other. But, by way of confession, I really, really love the junk food aisle. Like most girls in their 20s, I try to curb my adoration. But, truth be told, there are few things I love more than a bag of crunchy Cheetos or Smartfood popcorn. I crumble ranch Doritos on top of cold delivery pizza. I once plucked an open but uneaten bag of Cheetos from the garbage in college (again, this is a confession), and my friends still tell the story of how I crawled inebriated into bed the night of my 18th birthday, refusing any company other than a bag of Cape Cod potato chips.

But, as I said, I do try to watch myself. I don't want "Kerry" to become as synonymous with potato chips as "Popeye" is with spinach. So, I look forward to those few occasions a year when junk food is encouraged and exalted: the Fourth of July, for instance, or most important, the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is when I cut loose all ties and dive straight into the blue cheese pool. Growing up in a tangle of Europeans did not do much for my football fever, so this Sunday is like my culinary Christmas.

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This year, I wanted to outdo myself. And I think I did. I combined two of my favorite all-American junk food concoctions: nachos, and the loaded baked potato. Why should chips and cheese be relegated exclusively to flavors of the Southwest? Think of all the delectable permutations of chips and melted cheese that are possible! Instead of corn chips, I use super-crunchy kettle-cooked potato chips and load them with all the traditional baked potato fixings. I start with a creamy mashed potato spread, then shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, homemade bacon bits, and sliced scallions. I melt the whole concoction in a hot, crisping oven, and the baked potato chips emerge laden with drapes of oozing cheese. As a final touch, I add a giant spoonful of sour cream, which immediately starts to melt and pool around all the nooks and crannies. These chips are easy and innovative--and they won't last one quarter, so make a few batches!

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