Chicken Tostadas...

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If there is one Mexican dish that reminds me of my childhood and brings fond memories of summer days gone by is TostadasTostadas are probably best described as a giant nacho: they're crispy, light, fresh and really, really satisfying, with the added benefit of being, in my humble opinion and despite that they are a fried item, quite healthy. The word 'tostada' literally means 'toasted' in Spanish. Spaniards use this word to refer to toasted bread, in Mexico and Latin America, we use it to refer to a fried Tortilla. 
My granddad had a tortilla baking shop and I remember as a child helping to make them with the leftover tortillas of the day. We used to make the tortillas, cook them and then drop them in a massive deep fryer to make these deliciously crispy tortillas. At home, people have them as snacks, smothered in spicy salsa and chili powder, but we also have them as a main meal. They're the perfect for a picnic as well, as long as you bring the beans in a thermal container to keep them warm. They're very versatile and they're good to get rid of leftover chicken in your fridge or any other meat you can think of!  The other half loves them, polishing 6 or 7 at a time, I love them too so we have them at home regularly.
Tostadas are best made from 'old' corn tortillas, and they must be cold. If you can't get ready made tortillas, make a fresh batch of  from my recipe here in the blog, let them cool overnight and transform them into Tostadas the following day. Please note that Tostadas CANNOT be made from wheat tortillas as wheat absorbs horrid amounts of oil and they will go soggy pretty quickly. 
If you are not using your tostadas on the day, cool them and within the half hour place them in an air tight container, a Ziploc bag or a well sealed plastic bag and leave them in a cool and dry place in your kitchen (oil will go off quicker in a hot place). If you leave them uncovered they will go soft overnight.  Once made, tostadas can last up to a week. Enjoy the recipe!

Start by cooking your chicken. Put the chicken, garlic, bay leaf and some salt in a pot and cover them with water. Turn the heat on and bring the chicken to the boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat and let the chicken simmer for about 20 minutes or until it is fully cooked. Once it's cooked, take it out of the water, shred it and set it aside in a bowl for later. If you are making salsa from scratch, do it while the chicken is cooking as they take about the same time to make and you'll have two of the topping done and dusted.


While the chicken, and if you choose to do so, the salsa, are cooking, you can start making your tostadas. Heat the oil in a shallow, non-stick pan until it is very hot. While the oil heats, line a large plate with a couple of kitchen paper towels. This will help absorb any excess oil the tostadas may have. Gently drop one of the corn tortillas into the hot oil and with the help of an egg lifter and a fork, keep it flat while it fries. When the tortilla starts feeling crispy, gently turn it to the other side and fry it until it is golden and crispy. This should take about 1 minute on each side. Take it out of the oil shaking any excess over the pan and place it ont he lined plate you prepare earlier. Repeat this step until all your tortillas have been fried.  


The rest is very simple: Eating tostadas is an informal affair. Put all the toppings in small bowls on the table with loads of spoons and each person makes his/her own tostada as they go along. Tostadas are eaten cold, the only thing that needs to be warm is the beans, so heat them up when you're about to eat.

Assembling them is easy. Grab a tostada and spread some warm refried beans on it. Take a handful of chicken and sprinkle it on top of the beans. Top this with some lettuce followed by tomato and onion slices. Sprinkle some cheese, spoon some salsa on top and finish it up with a drizzle of sour cream.


Your tostadas are ready! Now the challenge is to eat them without dropping much on the plate. They're messy so loads of napkins will come handy. In Mexico, you get to lick your fingers and no one gives you a 'where are your manners?!" look. Tostadas are super versatile, you can top them up with shredded beef, leftovers of chili con carne (if that's your thing) or whatever tickles your fancy! I love them in a hot summer day with some hibiscus iced tea and you want to know a secret? if you're feeling totally lazy, you can buy the tostadas ready made too and skip the frying process all together!

Credits: the banner picture and those of the tostadas being assembled and finished were taken by the lovely Miss Hayley O'Reilly