February 08, 2011
While we were snowed in during the early part of last week, I decided to make some tostadas.
For those who don't know Mexican food beyond tacos, a tostada is, essentially, a crisp, deep-fried corn tortilla topped with spiced meat and whatever other condiments and toppings one wishes to use (typical choices include cheese, sour cream, diced avocado and chopped cilantro), often sprinkled with a bit of fresh lime juice. They're kind of like a flat hardshell taco.
Tostadas are most often made with pork, chicken or beef, though I suppose one might find seafood tostadas in the Mexican coastal regions and in some restaurants. They're pretty typical fare in American Mexican (and to a lesser extent Tex-Mex) restaurants, but haven't made as much of a dent in the fast food market, mostly because they're less convenient and potentially messier to eat, since the toppings can fall off more easily than is the case with a taco. Juli and I are pretty picky when it comes to Mexican restaurants, and have found few we really like, so I have no idea how long it had been since I'd last had a tostada until I made my own last week. Several years, at least.
I used the recipe for Spicy Mexican Shredded Pork Tostadas from the March 2010 issue of Cook's Illustrated. The America's Test Kitchen TV show had featured this recipe in an episode I'd seen a couple weeks earlier. It had looked pretty good whe they fixed it, and that started me thinking about making tostadas.
Turns out this was indeed a very, very good recipe. The instructions were clear, and the results were great. The pork stews for a time until it's fall-apart tender, at which point you mash it into small bits, then fry it with tomato sauce, chipotle powder and some other seasonings. Finally, you crisp-fry some corn tortillas and top them with the seasoned pork and garnishes of one's choice (we went with sour cream, cilantro, shredded queso fresco and lime wedges). The finished tostadas were crunchy and delicious, among the very best tostadas I've ever had.
Next time I want tostadas, I'll use this recipe again. If you would like to make some tostadas, I'd likewise recommend this recipe. It's easy, and it makes great tostadas.