Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tostadas, The Real Deal

You might remember I told you that I think pre-made taco shells are nasty.  And if you've ever eaten freshly fried corn tortillas that are known around here as tostadas (in some places  totopos) that are crisp and warm and salty, you know that Doritos are a cheap (tasting) and much inferior substitute.  So what's it going to be, steak or baloney?  Eggs or Eggbeaters? Rasberries or fruit roll-ups? Okay, enough already.  You get it.
First you need some corn tortillas.  With tortillas, fresh is always better.  However if they've been in your fridge for a while they are still better than you-know-what.
This is a 5lb. bag of corn tortillas.  It cost $3.89.  I'm going to fry up this whole bag of tortillas for a party.   Look how much this makes!
You're going to want to get the thinnest tortillas you can find for this job.
You will also need some oil. Well, OK, a lot of oil.  I've gotten to be a big fan of  peanut oil for frying.  It has a very high smoke point, has a very neutral/pleasant taste, and since it has mostly monounsaturated fat it is better for your heart.  I used about a half gallon for this, because it was a big ol' stack of tortillas.  That's about $6.00 worth of peanut oil.
Use a heavy dutch oven with high sides, or a deep fryer.  This is a lot of oil that will be dangerously hot, so protect yourself.  Also get a big tray, sheet pan, or some other receptacle to put the cooked tostadas on, and line it with lots of paper.  You can use paper towels, or brown paper bags, or even newsprint. Or you could let it drain on a rack.   I used the brown paper I keep around for this purpose.
I recommend cutting  the tortillas into 8ths.   Quarters are too big for bite-size.
Get your oil hot, hot, hot but not smoking.  Then take about 20 tortilla eighths and separate them by bending the chunk like this,

and then layering them on your fry scooper or some other implement.    Put them in the oil gently and then, gently stir the pot and separate the tostadas.   Don't go splashing hot oil around!  
When you see your tostadas are turning brown on the edges, scoop them out, let them drain over the pot a minute, then put them down on the paper.  If your grease is hot enough, the oil will run right out of them and there will be very little oil left in the chip.  
Sprinkle a little salt on each batch and taste one.  Come on, isn't that about a kajillion times better than one of those proccessed things made out of who knows what?  I'd say.

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