Chef-restaurateur Rick Bayless developed this recipe to mimic the famous tlayudas of Oaxaca, which are huge tortillas cooked directly on coals and brushed with lard before being topped.
His version uses regular 6-inch tortillas and calls for grilling them (see NOTE), but we found that the broiler works nicely. These are topped with chorizo, a thinner version of guacamole common to Oaxaca and fresh cheese, but they would take to all manner of minimal toppings, such as pureed black beans, shrimp and your favorite smoky salsa.
- For the guacamole
- 5 to 6 medium (about 8 ounces) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 2 or 3 serrano chili peppers, stemmed but not seeded, then coarsely chopped
- Leaves from 10 stems cilantro (about 1/2 cup packed)
- 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
- Flesh from 1 large ripe avocado
- Kosher or sea salt
- For the tostadas
- About 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed
- About 2 dozen 6-inch corn tortillas, preferably somewhat dry and leathery
- About 6 ounces queso fresco or other mild cheese, crumbled
For the guacamole: Combine the tomatillos, garlic, serrano peppers (to taste), cilantro and 1/2 cup water in a blender or food processor. Process to a coarse puree. Add the avocado and pulse until nearly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and, if necessary, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin to a consistency that will let you drizzle the sauce. Taste, and season with salt (up to 1 teaspoon).
For the tostadas: Cook the chorizo in a medium skillet over medium heat for about 12 minutes or until well browned, breaking up any clumps. If you wish to use the rendered chorizo fat to brush on the tostadas, scrape the contents of the skillet into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to catch as much of the chorizo fat as possible, pressing with the back of a spoon if needed. Reserve 1/4 cup of the fat and discard the rest or reserve for another use. Transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl.
Position an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Working in batches, place as many tortillas as will fit (slightly overlapping is okay) in a single layer on a broiler pan. Broil for 2 to 4 minutes so the tortillas are spotty brown all over. Transfer the pan to the stovetop and use tongs to turn the tortillas over. If desired, brush some of the rendered chorizo fat all over the second side, then sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the cooked chorizo on each tortilla. Return to the broiler and broil for 1 or 2 minutes.
Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with some of the guacamole, then garnish with the cheese. Serve the first round while you're making the next.
NOTE: To grill the tortillas, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-low (350 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the briquettes. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 6 to 8 seconds. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
When you're ready to serve, lay several tortillas on the grill and turn them every 20 seconds or so until nearly crisp; depending on the heat of your fire, this should take a couple of minutes. Then brush with chorizo fat, if desired, and top with cooked crumbled chorizo, guacamole and cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Bayless's upcoming "Fiesta at Rick's" (W.W. Norton, May 2010).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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