Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Frijoles Negros Refritos Tostadas

     Traditional Tostadas!
     Back when I was a little kid, tagging along with a relative that managed a fine Mexican restaurant in Southern California was a good learning experience.  Not only did I learn how to cook Mexican food, I learned a few good managerial skills that came in handy later in my career.  California Mexican food was different back in those days.  When compared to modern fast food style Mexican antojitos, the old fashioned California style was much more authentic.  Tostadas were always made with corn tortillas and using flour tortillas was something that only fast food restaurants did.  
     Today's Tostadas recipe is a basic old California style corn tortilla recipe.  Pinto Bean Refritos were the standard back in the old days, but Black Bean Refritos add a nice touch.  Refried Black Beans have a rich satisfying flavor that is perfect for simple Tostadas.  When considering the Tostada ingredients, the fresh vegetable garnishes and accompaniments, it is easy to see why Mexican food actually the healthiest cuisine in the world!

     Frijoles Negros:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/3 cups
     Step 1:  Soak 1 1/2 cups of dried black beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the soaking water and rinse the black beans under cold running water.
     Check for stones or discolored beans.
     Step 2:  Place the soaked black beans in a wide sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 2" of extra liquid.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Step 3:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Boil for 17 minutes.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (Season lightly.)
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the beans till they become tender.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with 1" of extra liquid.
     Step 5:  Remove the lid.
     Simmer and reduce till the level of liquid becomes slightly lower than the beans.
     Keep the black beans warm over low heat or chill them for later use.

     Refritos Negros:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/3 cups.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of the cooked black beans and a proportion of the black bean simmering broth (about 1/2 cup) in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground chile ancho.
     Simmer for 10 minutes so the flavors combine.
     Step 2:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Mash and puree the beans.
     *The beans can be pureed with an emersion blender, a food processor or they can be mashed by hand with a potato masher.  Mash and puree the beans till they become very smooth.
     Step 3:  Place the sauce pot of mashed beans over very low heat.
     Check the consistency.
     *The Refritos Negros should be thick enough to cling to a spoon, but not so thick that they stand tall when gathered with a spoon.  Adjust the consistency by adding water, if the refritos are too thick.  If the refritos negros are too thin, then simmer and reduce till they become thick.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer over very low heat and stir often for about 10 minutes.  Be sure that the refritos negros do not scorch on the bottom of the pan.
     Step 5:  Check the consistency again.  Adjust if necessary.
     Taste the refritos negros and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
     Keep the refritos negros warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  

     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (2 small portions)
     Escabeche is a marinated vegetable accompaniment.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of sliced carrot in a mixing bowl.  (3/16" thick)
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the escabeche in a container.
     Chill for at least 20 minutes and stir occasionally.

     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (4 garnish portions)
     No sour cream is needed in this guacamole!  It tastes amazingly crisp and fresh without sour cream.
     Step 1:  Place the fruit pulp of 1 medium size ripe avocado in a mixing bowl.  (About 1/2 cup)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped tomato.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)
     Step 2:  Mash and mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place the guacamole in a container.
     Chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

     Tomato Salsa:
     This recipe yields about 3/4 cup.  (4 small garnish portions)  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of chopped tomato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced seeded jalapeño.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place the salsa in a container.
     Chill the salsa for at least 10 minutes before serving.
     *Drain off any excess liquid before serving, if the salsa is used as a garnish.

     Frijoles Negros Refritos Tostadas:  
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  (2 - 6" tostadas)  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet (or sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/4" deep.
     Pan fry 2 corn tortillas (6" diameter) on both sides till they are crisp.  (If necessary, use a spatula to press them flat.)
     Step 2:  Place the crisp fried tortillas on wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 3:  Spread a thin layer of warm refried black beans on top of each crisp tortilla.  (About 1/3 cup each.)
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of mixed grated cheddar cheese and grated Oaxaca Cheese on each tostada.
     Step 4:  Place the 2 tostadas on a sheet pan.
     Bake the tostadas in a 350ºF oven, till the cheese melts.  (Do not brown the cheese!)
     Step 5:  Sprinkle about 1/6 cup of shredded romaine lettuce on each tostada.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato salsa on the lettuce.
     Mound 3 tablespoons of guacamole on the center of each tostada.
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of sour cream on top of the guacamole on each tostada.
     Garnish the sour cream with green onion slices.
     Step 6:  Place the garnished tostadas on a plate.
     Place a bed of romaine leaves on the back half of the plate.
     Place about 1/4 cup of escabeche on the romaine.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

     Old fashioned healthy tostadas!

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