November 29, 2015
We didn’t have many leftovers from Thanksgiving so we had to cook on Sunday. I broke out a couple more recipes I found while sitting around with my broken leg. I’ve been looking for a simple yet tasty chicken tostada recipe.
I probably shouldn’t admit this but I was looking for something you’d find at a standard mall-issue Mexican restaurant. Back when I was working I’d swim after work a few days a week. One Friday a month Carla goes to dinner with old friends (a group she’s hung out with for over 25 years). I wouldn’t be typically finish swimming until 7:00 and was not interested in cooking, so I’d drop by the nearby mall-issue Mexican restaurant and order a chicken tostada. Their recipe had WAY too much iceberg lettuce but the chicken was stewed in a nice chili sauce – that’s what I was looking for.
Preparing the chicken is super easy; combine the spices and rub the chicken. I use nitrile gloves when handling raw poultry; they keep my hands clean and I don’t end up having more rub on my hands than the chicken.
Place in the slow cooker and cover with 3/4 cup salsa. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
I cooked a little over five hours; I think four hours would have sufficed.
I sat down for a couple of hours and watched football before I had to finish dinner. I didn’t have any home made pinto beans for refried beans so I used a Cook’s Illustrated recipe [warning this is a subscription site].
It looked promising: render a couple of tablespoons of fat from some salt pork, then brown the onions, chilis, and spices before mixing in some drained and rinsed pinto beans after mixing in a food processor (details here). I couldn’t find poblano or jalapeño chilis at the market (that’s a first) so I substituted Anaheim and serrano chilis. I found them to be pretty bland. Now, the folks behind Cook’s Illustrated are great; I love their companion magazine Cook’s Country and their weekly public television show from America’s Test Kitchen. But being from Vermont they sometimes don’t come through on Southwest cooking.
On the other hand, some of this could be on me. I used my homemade chicken stock and didn’t compensate with adding some salt (the salt pork doesn’t get it tasty enough). Or maybe it was the chili substitutions. Or maybe it was the beans. I think I’ll try this one more time using Better Than Boullion (not using home made stock!? well we only use 1/2 cup); Rosarita pinto beans, and the chilis called for. I’ll check back when I do that and let you know what I think.
Now it was time to pull the chicken from the slow cooker and shred it; and separate the fat and return it all to the slow cooker to keep warm.
Now I remembered the downside to cooking Mexican food at home: there are so, so many items for topping.
With Carla’s help we got the guacamole made and all the other ingredients chopped up. I fried the tortillas (another option is to bake in the oven) and prepared the assembly line. Smear the refried beans on the tortilla then top with chicken, lettuce tomato, cheese (I used a combination of Monterey Jack and Cheddar) and top with a dab of guacamole and sour cream.
Friends and family in Southern California and Texas might turn their noses up at this but it was an okay dinner. If you want a terrific Mexican food dinner, try this Chili Colorado and beans. We will have plenty to eat for a couple more nights. I’ll probably try the tostadas again some day with a few tweaks and report back.
For whatever reason I didn’t get any pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving so I bought one when we went shopping for this dinner. I had a piece while watching Sunday Night Football; yeah, there is pie under there.