On Friday, I documented my obsession with crunchies. I told you that I like to fry up tortilla strips to garnish anything with a Mexican flavor and a remotely soft texture. Today, I’m back to tell you that there’s no need to stop at strips when you’re thinking about crispy tortillas. You can fry the whole round! In other words, I’ve discovered tostadas.
I’m here to tell you that tostadas have all but elbowed tacos out of our dinner rotation. My complaint about tacos has always been textural. As vibrant a flavor you give them, tacos’ texture has one dimension: soft. (Notable exception: Baha Fish Tacos.)
With a tostada, though, crunch comes with the territory. Before guests arrive–up to an hour or two before dinner–you fry the tortillas into tostadas in a little bit of oil. They don’t need to be eaten warm, and they stay crunchy, so it’s not like frying latkes that get soggy and meh within minutes. You really can do the frying in advance.
And then other than that, this is a matter of assembly. I’ve made tostadas with a delicious pulled chicken tinga topping, and today’s version originally hit the menu when we had friends over for brunch on one of the season’s first snowy Saturdays. I made refried beans, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, stirred together chipotle mayo, and, finally–when we were ready to eat–scrambled up eggs with herbs and onions. We piled all these soft (but wonderful) ingredients on top of our crunchy tortillas. Brunch was served, messy and filling.
Scrambled Egg Tostadas with Black Beans, Avocado & Spicy Mayo
Serves 4 (generously)
8 small corn tortillas
Neutral oil, like safflower
1 large white onion, chopped and divided between two bowls
1 can black beans, pureed with the liquid from the can
½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
7 eggs, beaten well
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo with a little bit more sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 avocado, sliced
Juice of ½ a lime
Fry the tortillas: in a cast-iron skillet, warm ½ inch of oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Dip an edge of a tortilla in the oil and see if it bubbles—that’s when the oil is ready. Add each tortilla and cook for about 1 ½ minutes per side, until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt immediately. Set aside. You can make these an hour or so in advance.
Make the refried beans: heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (you can use the pan you fried the tortillas in, just wipe out most of the oil). Add half of the chopped onion and cook for 4 minutes, until soft. Add the pureed beans and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with salt, but be careful to taste as you go, since canned beans can vary in how much salt they have. Transfer to a small bowl.
To make the chipotle mayo, place the mayo, chipotle, and extra sauce in a small bowl. Stir together, tasting for spiciness and adding more pepper or mayo to your taste. Set aside.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 375°F.
When ready to eat, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the rest of the onions and cook for 8 minutes, until soft. Add the chopped cilantro and stir to wilt. Season the eggs with a few pinches of salt, add them to the pan, and turn the heat to low. Scramble the eggs slowly so they form small curds around the onions, turning the heat down if they’re cooking too fast.
While the eggs are finishing cooking, spoon the beans evenly among the 8 tortillas and spread them over the surface, nearly to the edges. Cover each tortilla with an even amount of cheese, then transfer them to baking sheets and toast for 4 to 5 minutes, just til the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, drizzle a little spicy mayo on each, then pile on the scrambled eggs. Squeeze lime juice and sprinkle salt over the avocado slices, then divvy them up on top of the eggs. Garnish with cilantro. Serve tostadas immediately, with a knife and fork. These are messy!
Photos by Carly Diaz