“Homer Loves Flanders,” season 5, episode 16
In honor of launching this new blog, I decided to go big. I’m talking NACHO HAT big. Because doesn’t everyone deserve to be a Nacho Man?
It’s time for the Pigskin Classic in season five’s “Homer Loves Flanders.” The Shelbyville Sharks are playing the Springfield Atoms and Homer simply must go. Bart sells him two tickets that turn out to be wig coupons, and this leads Homer to fantasize about wearing a Marge wig. He tells himself “I love you” in the mirror, chuckles, and decides “I don’t need her at all anymore.” It’s bizarre and hilarious. Flanders wins tickets to the game and offers one to Homer, who refuses at first but relents after eating a ceiling waffle (“Mmm…sacrelicious”).
Arriving at the game, Homer makes Flanders (who is driving) duck so that his friends won’t see them together. Lenny and Carl observe that Homer has one of those robot cars, and when they crash, one of those American robot cars. Flanders then buys all of the snacks and Homer is overjoyed when he spies, you guessed it, a nacho hat.
He sings Nacho, nacho man. I want to be, a nacho man! and has a grand time even though he gets hit by a keg. Ned secures him the game ball (Stitchface), and Homer is now happy to be Ned’s friend. Soon, Homer’s hanging out at Ned’s and breaking his brand new pool table. He starts to get on Ned’s nerves as he shows up whenever he likes, eats his family’s dinner, and tags along with to Ned’s weekly charity work at the soup kitchen, getting all of the credit.
Ned is already worn thin when Homer insists the two families take a weekend trip together. Bart gives Rod and Todd sugar for the first time, the Simpsons start a one-sided food fight, and Homer wrecks Ned’s boat. Soon after, Ned realizes he hates Homer. When Homer seeps through the bushes to hang out the next day, Ned lies and tells Homer he’s busy, sending him back through the bushes and making one of the best memes of all time.
After Homer goes Terminator chasing the Flanders’ car, Ned gets pulled over by the police and the church bus sees him in the middle of a sobriety test. He arrives at church amidst a swirl of controversy (the sermon is titled “What Ned Did”), and Homer’s loud breathing during silent prayer sets him off. The congregation turns against Ned, celebrating Homer’s recent charity work, but Homer comes to his defense and everyone apologizes. Ned thanks Homer and calls him a true friend.
NACHO HAT TIME! This was a doozy. I first had to come up with a hat-shaped setup that was heatproof (as seen below). Then I had to decide what to make the hat out of, how to cook it, etc. I started by attempting to make it a corn chip hat using masa dough. It baked up crisp but couldn’t hold the shape well enough to be a wearable hat. Ideally a nacho hat would be made with a big mold and then fried, but I don’t know anyone with a fryer that big. I settled on flour tortilla dough, and basically made a giant, hat-shaped tortilla. And it worked! I even put it on my head and ate nacho cheese out of it. Life is good.
The instructions are long, but it won’t actually take you that long to make. I share my hat shaping set-up, but get creative if you don’t have all of these pans. Just make sure it’ll fit on your head and everything is oven-safe. It’s a fun centerpiece at a party or to wear around town to formal occasions. Just make sure you sing Nacho Man while wearing it.
Dough recipe adapted from Epicurious
Serves 1 Homer or 4-6 real people
For the tortilla:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
4 ½ tablespoons butter or lard, room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 (15-ounce) jar cheese dip
For the hat shape:
1 (10 to 11-inch) cake pan
1 (7-inch) cheesecake pan with removable bottom
1 oven-safe, standard-sized cereal bowl
Pie weights or dried beans (or extra aluminum foil)
Lots of aluminum foil
Make the dough:
- Add the flour and table salt in a large bowl and mix. Break off the butter or lard into pieces and add to the flour. Use your hands to mix, squishing the butter or lard into the flour over and over until the mixture resembles cornmeal and no sizable pieces of fat remain.
- Make a well in the middle and add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and half of the water. Draw a little flour into the middle and mix together. Add the rest of the water and mix.
- Use your hands to form into a dough. Knead for up to 5 minutes until a smooth ball forms. If the dough is too shaggy, add a sprinkle of water or two in between kneading until the dough comes together. If the dough is too sticky, add a sprinkle of flour.
- Rub the dough ball with oil and place back in the bowl. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
Make the hat shape:
- What I did: Place the bowl, right side up, in the middle of the baking pan. Remove the bottom of the cheesecake pan and turn it upside down before placing it over the bowl.
- Add pie weights or dried beans around the cheesecake pan and in the bowl to make the recesses shallower. Alternatively, you can use pieces of crumpled up aluminum foil.
- Make sure your “bowl” where the cheese dip will go is not too deep, otherwise it will be hard to wear on a head (learn from my mistakes).
- Use long strips of aluminum foil to cover the entire sculpture, being careful not to shift everything too much. Really go crazy with the aluminum foil. Make sure everything is very smooth and covered.
- Spray the entire thing with cooking spray.
Bake your hat:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly flour a large countertop and place the dough ball in the middle. Working from the inside out, roll the ball out into a large circle, careful to keep it the same thickness all the way across. You’re aiming for about ⅓ of an inch thickness.
- Fold the circle in half and then half again and center it over your hat shape, unfolding and gently laying it on top. Starting in the middle, lift the sides of the dough and gently press it into the mold, careful not to tear the dough or make any spot too thin or thick.
- Once the dough has been fitted to the entire shape, trim the outside and smooth out the edge. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with kosher or sea salt.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top edges are golden brown and the recesses feel cooked through. If any bubbles pop up during baking, carefully poke with a fork and gently press back down.
- Let cool completely on the hat shape.
Serving your hat:
- If you’d like your hat a bit crunchier or your “bowl” didn’t cook through enough, you can crisp it up. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the hat form the mold and flip it over on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t brown too much. Let cool.
- Heat up your cheese dip until warm. Add to the bowl of your hat.
- If you’re brave enough, wear it and sing a little song. Otherwise, serve on a plate or platter. Maybe fill the brim with chips!