How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Local Tostadas

They were not nearly from scratch, but this evening's tostadas were immensely satisfying, and I do think that the extra care taken is partly responsible, along with many local or regional ingredients. Previous tostada efforts have begun with store-bought corn tostadas, which are usually available in little bags of about a dozen, stacked in a rather fragile pile in the "international" section of the larger grocery stores. These are not bad, but they are not a great beginning.

Here is what I did this evening, drawing very loosely on the introduction to the tostada section of The Bible, also known as The Well-Filled Tortilla. Yes, it has an entire tostada section, which is yet another reason that you should go get a copy if you have been putting this off.

I started by boiling a couple of chicken breasts that were in the freezer. While they boiled -- which did take a while -- I chopped a small onion, a couple cloves of garlic, an Italian pepper, and one red-hot serrano pepper, all from this week's farm-box share at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. Once the chicken was very tender, I lifted the pieces into a medium bowl, where I used two forks to shred them. I then heated the last remnants of a bottle of Persian lime-infused olive oil from Lebherz (time to re-order!) in an indispensable cast-iron saucepan. I then browned the chicken in the oil, and added the aromatics, cooking until all of this just looked and smelled wonderful.

Meanwhile, I heated some refried beans (Trader Joe's Salsa Style) in a small, indispensable cast-iron skillet. Then I stirred a bit more EVOO and some chili powder into the chicken mixture. I turned both pans to very low heat and heated a goodly amount of EVOO (about a 1/4-inch deep; we never do this) in our large, indispensable cast-iron skillet. I then placed a store-bought, eight-inch, flour tortilla in the pan and heated it until the edges began to brown. I turned it over with tongs (our friend Rob insists this is the most important tool in the kitchen, and today he was right), cooked for another minute or so, and then placed it on a plate. I repeated with a second tortilla, being careful not to allow the oil to smoke, and to allow the tostadas (the first I've ever made!) to drain just a bit. When they got a bit puffy, the tongs proved useful in bringing them down to size.

With everything done at the same time (one of the toughest parts of cooking, in my book), we assembled by spreading the beans on each tostada and topping with a generous helping of the chicken. We then topped it with sliced, luscious tomato (also from Colchester), plain Stonyfield yogurt (healthier than sour cream), and a chipotle salsa from Green Mountain Gringo.

What could be better than all this, besides delightful company? The perfect pairing with Original Recipe Pale Ale from our friends in Westport.

UPDATE: The panic about Persian lime-infused olive oil was premature. Pam remembers an additional bottle, purchased for our Lime Jubilee in May. I know readers were worried!

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