Corn Tostadas

Published March 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

Could a store-bought tostada hold a candle to homemade?

Overview:

The Mexican tostada is a close relative of the tortilla chip—only bigger, flatter, and less salty. Traditionally, tostadas are made from stale corn tortillas that are toasted (the literal translation of the word) or deep-fried to make them not only more flavorful but also sturdy enough to support a thick layer of refried beans or forkfuls of moist shredded meat. Figuring that a homemade version would function as our benchmark for what a good prefab tostada should taste like—shatteringly crisp and full of nutty corn flavor—we got to work frying our own with store-bought corn tortillas, then compared them with five packaged tostada brands (Mission, Charras, Olé, Ortega, and Old El Paso), both plain and with refried beans. The better brands (Mission, Charras, and Olé) boasted coarsely ground corn and no preservatives. The “clean corn flavor,” “rustic crunch,” and “substantial” texture of Mission Tostadas Estilo Casero made it the hands-down favorite. It was so good, some tasters even preferred it to our homemade version.

The Mexican tostada is a close relative of the tortilla chip—only bigger, flatter, and less salty. Traditionally, tostadas are made from stale corn tortillas that are toasted (the literal translation of the word) or deep-fried to make them not only more flavorful but also sturdy enough to support a thick layer of refried beans or forkfuls of moist shredded meat. Figuring that a homemade version would function as our benchmark for what a good prefab tostada should taste like—shatteringly crisp and full of nutty corn flavor—we got to work frying our own with store-bought corn tortillas, then compared them with five packaged tostada brands (Mission, Charras, Olé, Ortega, and Old El Paso), both plain and with refried beans. The better brands (Mission, Charras, and Olé) boasted coarsely ground corn and no preservatives. The “clean corn flavor,” “rustic crunch,” and “substantial” texture of Mission Tostadas Estilo Casero made it the hands-down favorite. It was so good, some tasters even preferred it to our homemade version.

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