When the Pantry Dictates the Dish

October 20, 2009

sweet-potato-chipsSome of the best meals I’ve ever come up with have been completely by accident.  I go grocery shopping once a week, carefully planning out the week’s dinners.  But like everyone, occasionally I forget something on the list – usually I remember later and stop at a store to remedy the blunder.  But sometimes I don’t realize until it’s time to make dinner that I’m still missing a key ingredient.

This happened last Friday.  I had planned on going simple, making burgers with sweet potato chips.  To my dismay I discovered I had neglected a key component of burgers – buns.  And this being Friday, there were no other viable bun substitutes on hand…no pita bread, no rolls, not even any bread (I go shopping Saturday mornings).

I had no desire to just make the burgers and eat them with a fork…too low-carb-diet-ish.  So I thought about it, and my brain tried to find a way to combine the ground beef with the sweet potatoes.  I also had some good salsa and shredded cheese on hand, and so I now present to you:

Eric’s Spontaneous Sweet Potato Nachos

1 cup vegetable oil (optional – see note* below)

1 very large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into           1/8 – 1/4 inch round slices

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup salsa (store-bought or make your own)

1-1½  cups shredded jack (or pepper jack or cheddar or queso blanco)

Set the broiler to high.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When oil is very hot, add sweet potato slices, being careful not too overcrowd the pan.  Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Drain slices on a paper towel; continue process until all slices are cooked.

*For a healthier preparation, layer the potatoes on a baking sheet and lightly brush with oil (you may have to do 2 batches if all slices can’t fit on one sheet).  Broil a few minutes on each side, being careful to brown them, not burn them.

While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add beef, breaking it up as it cooks.  When beef is browned, add salsa to the pan.  Simmer until the beef is cooked through.

When potatoes and meat are ready, layer the potato slices in a 9X13 baking pan.  Top with meat mixture, covering slices evenly.  Top with cheese, covering meat mixture evenly.  Broil a few minutes until cheese is melted.  Top with fresh chopped cilantro if you have any on hand (I did not).  Eat!



  1. I highly recommend this recipe. It was an awesome dinner!

  2. You should include a Ryane/Damian meter in the post – so we know it wasn’t just you (obviously) who enjoyed your Dr. Frankenstein concoctions.

    • Of course they enjoyed it…rarely do I make something that only I like…except peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, but I never make that for Ryane…and now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps it’s time for the Dude to become a fan…

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