Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tostadas with Tomatillo Salsa

When the opportunity to dine out presents itself, not once have I suggested a Mexican restaurant.

I've been to many in my day, hell I used to work at one, and really the only thing that appeals to me are the margaritas. 

Many ethnic restaurants in the states cater to the taste buds of Americans, which usually means the food is made from highly processed ingredients, is swimming in oil, butter, and/or cheese, is deep fried, and contains little to no heat or spice.

I guarantee that you will see quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos and burrtitos on the menu of of any given Mexican restaurant. Said items are most likely made with frozen white flour tortillas that contain ingredients that even I can't pronounce, canned black beans, pre-shredded monterey jack cheese pulled from a 20 pound bag, and some factory farmed ground beef.  Some people love this kind of food, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I want the real deal.  Handmade corn or flour tortillas cooked from scratch, probably made with a bit of lard, beans that have been stewing in a pot for hours, maybe some queso fresco or cotija cheese and lots of fresh salsa.. none of that jarred crap.

Unfortunately, I live 2,498.6 miles from Mexico so my options are a bit limited.

I set out to make some Mexican grub at home (tostadas), which I'll admit was probably no where near as authentic as something I would get from some li'l old Mexican lady named Magdalena, but it sure as hell wasn't taco del mar either.

Inspired by some tomatillos I got at the farmers market, I took the obvious route and made some tomatillo salsa.  I could have easly eaten this with a bag of tortilla chips, but the whole point of this post is to prove I'm not a cracker ass American that eats thin and crispy restaurant style tortilla chips and salsa for dinner.... I mean, I only do that once in a while... usually when I come home from a bar and don't want to risk cooking anything for fear of dropping a cast iron skillet on my foot.

I bought some avocados, because really you can't have Mexican food without this delicious food of the gods, so I made guacamole, because that's what you do.

Now, the corn tortillas I had weren't made from scratch, but I fried them up myself instead of buying pre-made tostadas, so in my book they were totally authentic.

Paired with some black beans I cooked earlier in the week, some chopped romaine lettuce, radishes and some cotija cheese, I had myself the makings of a tostada.

Tostadas with Tomatillo Salsa (makes 6 tostadas)

Tomatillo Salsa

5 medium sized tomatillos
1/3 c. chopped yellow onion
2 jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
1/4 c. cilantro, rough chopped
1/2 T. lime juice
pinch of sugar
salt, to taste

Preheat broiler. Line a sheetpan with aluminum foil and set aside. Remove outer husks from tomatillos and rinse off any sticky residue. Cut into quarters, place on sheetpan, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Cook under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, checking every couple of minutes to make sure they aren't burning. They should be a soft with a little bit of char on the skin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile place the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Add the cooled tomatillos and process until combined. Set aside.


6 corn tortillas
sunflower oil or any other neutral oil for frying

guacamole (if you're smart, you'll double the recipe)

1 1/2 c. black beans
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 T. lime juice
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
pinch salt

chopped romaine lettuce
julliened radishes
pea shoots (optional)

1 c. crumbled cotija cheese (queso fresco or feta would work, too)

To make the tostada shells, heat 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet. When the oil is super hot (but not smoking), add a tortilla shell and press down with a spatula, making sure it is fully submerged in the oil, cook for 30 seconds, flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Gently lift the tortilla out of the hot oil and transfer to a wire cooling rack, lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Make the guacamole.

Place the black beans in a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder and sea salt.

To assemble the tostadas, smear a generous amount of guacamole on each shell. Top with the seasoned black beans, romaine lettuce and radishes. Sprinkle on a bit of cheese and top with pea shoots.
Drizzle with a bit of tomatillo salsa and stuff your face.

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