So you have the refried beans and guacamole all set to go and you discover that your last bag of tortilla chips is down to the crumbles. But wait, there is a package of partly dried out corn tortillas that has been living in the way back of the fridge.
Do you also have a quart – more or less – of good canola oil? And a nice heavy cast iron dutch oven? And salt?
If you do, problem solved.
- Cut each TORTILLA into four triangles. Toss these into a big bowl.
- Pour about two cups of OIL into that very heavy and deep cooking pot.
I have a great Dutch Oven that I rescued from my mother in law’s basement about a hundred years ago but if you are not so blessed, any decently heavy, deep cooking vessel will suffice.
- Line a cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels and set it aside away from the heat.
Heat the oil until it is very hot. I don’t use a thermometer so I can’t say exactly how hot. If, when you put the palm of your hand over the heating up oil, it feels the heat, and I mean it feels the heat, then the oil is probably hot enough.
I guess the safer way to do this is to drop one of the tortilla triangles in and if it begins to bubble and fry immediately then the oil is ready. If it just sits there looking flabby take it out and wait a bit longer.
Depending on the size of your pot, put oh, eight or twelve triangles in at a time. They shouldn’t be too crowded. Use tongs of some sort to do this and then use the tongs to kind of poke the chips around as they fry.
When the chips are deeply golden remove them to the cookie sheet with the paper towels on it, which has been placed away from the heat, right? Please no flaming paper towels tonight.
- Now for the SALT. As little or as much as you like but definitely sprinkle it on when the chips are still warm. I don’t think any studies have been done but I am pretty sure that salt sticks better to warm chips.
You might have caught on that this is not fast food. While I am captive to the process of making my own tortilla chips, I have plenty of time to let my mind wander. Which I advocate. Mind wandering. I think we need more of it in this fast paced world of ours.
I’ve been around long enough to remember when Doritos was the only packaged corn chip on the shelves – at least where I grew up. And Cool Ranch wasn’t even invented yet.
We could buy taco kits at the Soo Co-op and they were pretty much the same as now but we could also get tortillas in a can with a Mexican dude on the label telling us to ‘enjoy a real Mexican dinner at home’.
We have plenty of choices now so why would anyone make their own chips? Why not just run out to CVS or wherever?
But if someone (and by someone I mean my hubby, Tom) had gone to the store we wouldn’t have both been in the kitchen laughing together remembering Nacho Libre’s famous remark about the Lord’s chips. That movie is a collective memory for our family. One by one as people wandered into the kitchen the mood automatically got lighter as we would laugh and say “These are the Lord’s chips”.
And not only did folks wander in but they lingered, waiting to snag a hot salted corn chip. And that, my friends, is the essence of enjoying a real Mexican dinner at home.
Blessings from my home to yours