The 2-Ingredient Trick to Take Your Appetizer Spread Up a Notch

I thought potato chips were a perfect food until I tried this simple trick to make them even better.

I don't really cook appetizers at home, except around the holidays. When the middle November hits, all I can think about is elaborate cheese and charcuterie spreads, baked Brie, crudite platters, and plenty of chips and dips. This year, the newest addition to my rotation is a platter of cheese-sprinkled, black pepper-topped kettle potato chips, which take a brief rotation in the oven before hitting the table to be immediately demolished by any sane human who happens to be nearby. Trust me, I've seen it happen.

In the last few years, everything has been cacio e pepe-ified; a technique that comes from the classic Roman pasta dish in which cheese and black pepper are mixed with pasta water and become a luxurious, perfect pasta sauce. It make sense: Parmesan and black pepper are an incredibly good combination and they improve the flavor of everything they touch. So it stands to reason that even potato chips, a similarly perfect food, can benefit from the cacio e pepe treatment.

kettle cooked chips and dip
LauriPatterson via Getty Images

The technique is so simple, I hesitate to even call it a technique. Simply preheat your oven to 400°F. Spread a layer of store-bought kettle cooked potato chips on a baking sheet and sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese (Pecorino also works well). Grind some black pepper on top, then do another layer. Think of it like making nachos: you want every chip to get at least a little bit of action from the toppings. Keep building until you've used up all your chips (I'd recommend doing at least two bags) then transfer to the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the chips are hot, the cheese is melted, and some of the chips are beginning to darken in color just slightly. Serve the chips on the hot baking sheet to keep them warm longer, or just gently slide them onto a serving tray or bowl for a slightly more elegant presentation.

I'll be serving this dish at every holiday party I host from here out, ready to impress every guest. That includes the party I'll be hosting this year just for my boyfriend and me, where we drink wine on the couch in our pajamas (again). There's something incredibly luxurious about upping the snack ante on an item as beloved as a potato chip. It's the perfect vibe for this 2020 holiday. Oh, and they pair perfectly with Champagne.

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