It has been a busy couple weeks – Spring and warm weather is here at last. But the kids outdoor sports activities have started too and with that and work and yard work etc etc there is no time to even blink! And I am also on my Mexican mission this month trying to read up (and learn) about traditional recipes, techniques and ingredients. Now since Mexican cuisine is one that I really really love and as I am slowly beginning to appreciate the variety and wide array of recipes, I also have come to the realization that it will take me several years to learn all the traditional slew of recipes that are truly tantalizing!. As I had mentioned in my last post, I got several authentic Mexican ingredients from my secret jaunt to the Mexican market with my friend, Monica. Corn masa was an ingredient that I got so that I could make corn tortillas from scratch. And I am so proud to say that I was able to make them successfully even without a tortilla press. Well, I regularly make Indian rotis however the corn masa dough was a little different in texture to the whole wheat roti dough and so I struggled a little bit initially but managed after a few tries. Also, Rick Bayless’s tip of placing the dough ball between two plastic sheets helped a lot. So this weekend I successfully made corn tortillas and then deep fried them to make tostadas! If you read my last post, I had talked about the delicious chicken and black bean tostada that I had at the Mercado in our neighborhood. I could not get over the deliciousness of that scrumptious tostada with the varying textures and flavors.! So I had to absolutely make these tostadas! The blackbeans for this recipe is cooked with spices and onions and then pureed. This puree forms the first layer of the tostada. Shredded chicken forms the next layer and then lettuce with Mexican fresh crema and Queso Fresco crumbles on the top! Oh believe me eating this tostada is an absolutely positively wonderful experience that you will want to experience over and over again! The following are the steps for this recipe -although this looks like an elaborate process, you could split these tasks over a couple days in advance and then it wouldn’t be so onerous. The chicken for instance needed for this could be left over chicken from any chicken dish. I am bringing these crispy tasty tostadas to Fiesta Friday this week!
- 1 3/4 cups Masa Harina (powdered corn – I used Maseca brand)
- About 1 1/4 cups luke warm water
Take a large mixing bowl and add the Masa harina. Then add first 1 cup of the warm water and stir using a large wooden spoon to mix. Then add more water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. At this point, use your hands to press the dough into a large ball. If the dough feels crumbly, add more water until a small ball of dough can be rolled into a smooth ball. Divide the dough into about 15 balls. Heat a medium size griddle – or non stick pan on the stove on medium heat. Then roll the dough ball by placing in between two plastic sheets (I used a large ziploc bag and cut it to form 2 sheets) After you have rolled the tortilla into a circle (or similar to a circle! ) about 12 inches in dia, ease the top plastic sheet away carefully. then turn the tortilla onto other side and carefully take the other sheet off too and place the tortilla onto the heated pan. Cook for about 30 seconds and then flip using a flipper onto the other side. Cook for about 1 minute and then again flip and cook for 30 seconds more on the other side. transfer to a large plate and keep covered with Al foil or a clean kitchen cloth. Repeat same process for cooking the rest of the tortillas.
Making Chicken for the topping:
- 1 lb chicken thigh pieces, cleaned
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp Achiote paste (optional)
- 2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- 2 dried Hoja Santos leaves
- 1 tbsp dried Epazote leaves
- 1 lime quartered
- 4-6 black pepper corns
- 1 tsp Salt (if you are not adding achiote paste, you may need to add more salt)
Put all the above ingredients in a medium size cooking pot (or a slow cooker) and let cook on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked and very tender) Let cool and drain the liquid and use as chicken stock for future use. Shred the chicken pieces into small pieces. Keep aside.
Making Black beans for the topping:
- 2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 of a medium onion, sliced thinly
- 1 serrano pepper (optional)
Take a medium cooking pot and add the beans with the salt and garlic and the water. Heat until the water boils and turn heat to low and cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Keep aside. In a small heating pan, lightly roast the sliced onions and the serrano pepper for about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the onions,pepper and the bean mixture into a blender and puree. Add about 1-2 tbsp of water as needed to get a thick puree. If the puree is a little watery, then put it back in the pot and heat for a couple minutes until it becomes thick (spreadable consistency)
12 corn tortillas Cooking oil for deep frying Heat the cooking oil in a deep frying pan. deep fry the corn tortilla one at a time by dropping slowly into the hot oil and waiting for about 30-40 seconds till the tortilla turns crispy. Then flip it and fry on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Assembling the tostadas:
- 12 Deep fried corn tortillas
- 2 cups black bean puree (see above)
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (see above)
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 2 cups , diced tomatoes and avocado (optional)
- 2 cups fresh Mexican crema (or sour cream thinned with a little milk)
- 1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco