Spicy Beef and Chorizo Tostadas on a Crisp Fried Shell

Another popular dish growing up were tostadas – simply an open-faced taco with a refried bean base and melted cheese topping. Dad did not believe in store-bought tostada shells. We used corn tortilla taco shells and fried them crisp. For whatever reason, the frying was always assigned to me. If I were to venture to guess, I would say it was because I was the oldest, and Dad was confident in my ability to fry the shells without burning myself or the kitchen. All I know is that I hated the job – it was boring! Dad insisted the shells be fried crisp just like the store-bought variety, and in my mind that took forever. While I often use the store-bought shells today, I can still remember the superior texture and flavor of a home-fried shell. They are fresh, never stale.

Dad used the same meat recipe for his Tostadas as he did for his tacos; and in that aspect I am no different. The meat layer is the same as my taco filling. To take Dad’s tostadas to the next level, I’ve added Jalapeno Peppers and Mexican Cheese, with a quick pop under the broiler.

As I write this now, I am carried back to summers long ago. We gathered as a family around the picnic table in the yard and enjoyed the evening together. Our family dining room table was reserved for chilly weather or when company came to dinner. The rest of the time, we dined outdoors. There’s something about fresh air that makes everything taste better. It must be why, when camping, I always have a good appetite. While dining outdoors was great, now I wonder if we did so for the fresh air or because any food that was dropped from our plates were quickly devoured by the family dogs – it certainly made kitchen clean up a little easier in that there were no floors to sweep!

Spicy Beef & Chorizo Tostadas
Ingredients – Tostada Shells
12 Corn Tortilla Shells
Oil for frying

In a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat, heat oil until just beginning to bubble. You want enough oil to allow tortilla to float gently above about 1/4 inch (no more) hot oil.

When oil is ready, fry one tortilla at a time until lightly crisp, turning as needed to prevent shell from burning.

Once both sides are crisp, lift from oil with tongs and allow excess oil to drip back into the pan.

Place tostada shell on a wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Blot well with paper towels on both sides to remove any remaining excess oil. Set aside until ready to use. If using store-bought tostada shells, this step in the preparation can be skipped.

Ingredients – Spicy Meat Layer
1 lb Ground Beef (Chuck has the most flavor)
1 Lb Bulk Chorizo Meat (the good stuff)
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
2 tablespoons Beef Stock
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste

In a large cast iron skillet, crumble the ground beef and chorizo meat together. Over medium-high heat, brown the meat mixture, breaking it into small pieces as it browns. DO NOT DRAIN right away. Add seasonings to absorb some of the fat (it’s packed with flavor).

Transfer meat to a colander that is inside a large bowl to catch the grease. (This prevents the unwanted grease from going down the sink and making a mess of your pipes. Once drained, simply discard grease into a can and toss).

Using a wooden spoon, stir the meat while in the colander to drain completely without squeezing out the good stuff. Once meat has completely drained, return to the skillet. If there are any large pieces remaining, break them into small pieces.

Add beef stock and tomato paste, stirring to combine completely. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.

Ingredients – Refried Bean Base
2 small or 1 Large can of refried beans
2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings

Discard unused oil in skillet used to fry up tostada shells. (Since the oil is hot, carefully pour into a tin can or metal bowl, allow to cool and then dispose of oil). Wipe skillet with paper towels, then add bacon drippings. Melt drippings over medium-heat. Add refried beans and cook until hot and spreadable.

Ingredients – Top Layer
¼ – ½ Cup Roasted Jalapeño Peppers, finely chopped
½ lb Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded

Heat broiler element in oven.

Place tostada shells on rimmed baking sheets. Divide refried beans among shells, spread with the back of a spoon. Divide meat among shells, spreading on top of beans. Sprinkle jalapeño peppers over tostadas. Top with Mexican cheese.

Place baking sheets, one at a time, under broiler and cook until cheese has melted, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer finished tostadas to a large serving platter.

Ingredients – Garnish Toppings
1 cup Sour Cream
1 or 2 Avocados, diced (sprinkle with a little lemon juice to retain color)
2-3 Tomatoes, diced
6 Lettuce Leaves, shredded
Taco Sauce and/or Salsa

Place sour cream and salsa in bowls on a large serving platter. Be sure to include spoons in the bowls for serving.

Arrange avocados, tomatoes and shredded lettuce around the bowls. Include tongs for the lettuce, a serving spoon for the avocados and a slotted spoon for the tomatoes.

This platter can be prepared in advance, covered and chilled until ready to serve tostadas. When ready, place garnish platter along side finished tostadas and dig in.

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