Sunday, March 2, 2008

Black-Bean Tostados with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce and Tostadas

I like every kind of beans, so I've copied this Mexican recipe which tastes great from Gourmet. And you can choose to use only a portion of the recipe too.:)

Use the tomatillo sauce as a separate recipe for steaks or chicken. It really perks up the dish.

I've also added a recipe for making tostadas, which is really easy to make and much tastier than having it store bought. Enjoy:)

It's the spicy, garlicky tomatillo salsa that really sells these addictive tostadas. Frying store-bought corn tortillas heightens the vibrancy of their corn flavor and creates a crisp foundation for the refried black beans, shredded romaine, lush avocado, and creamy queso fresco.

6 large garlic cloves, 4 cloves peeled and left whole and 2 cloves coarsely chopped
1 lb tomatillos (8 medium), husked, rinsed, and halved
4 fresh serrano chiles or 2 fresh jalapeños (including seeds), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion, rinsed in a sieve and patted dry
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 dried avocado leaves (optional), coarse stems discarded

2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (6- to 7-oz) firm-ripe avocados
12 tostadas, recipe below
3 cups thinly sliced romaine (from 1 head)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese) or mild feta (1/4 lb)

Make tomatillo sauce:
Line a 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron; not nonstick) with foil, then heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 2 whole garlic cloves and half of tomatillos, cut sides down, and roast on top of stove until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes (skillet will begin to smoke at this point).

Turn over garlic and tomatillos (tomatillos may stick to foil) and roast until well browned and tomatillos are completely soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer roasted garlic and tomatillos to a food processor. Discard foil, then line skillet with a fresh sheet of foil and roast remaining 2 whole garlic cloves and remaining tomatillos in same manner, transferring as done to food processor.

Cool garlic and tomatillos to room temperature in bowl of processor, about 30 minutes.

Add chiles, half of cilantro, and 2 tablespoons water to mixture in processor, then pulse until it forms a chunky sauce, adding 1 tablespoon more water if too thick.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in onion and 1 teaspoon salt.

If using avocado leaves, toast, 1 at a time, in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet (without foil lining) over moderate heat, turning every few seconds, until lightly browned and aromatic, about 1 minute, transferring to a plate as toasted.

Bring beans and remaining 2 cups water to a simmer in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then add avocado leaves and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

Drain beans in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving liquid. Purée beans, 1/4 cup cooking liquid (reserve remainder), avocado leaves (if using), and chopped garlic in a food processor until smooth.

Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then add bean purée and cook, stirring, until very thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, then remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

Halve and pit avocados, then scoop out flesh in large pieces and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

If necessary, stir some of reserved bean-cooking liquid in to make bean purée soft and easily spreadable. Divide warm beans among tostadas and spread evenly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon tomatillo sauce over each tostada, then divide avocado among tostadas and top with romaine, cheese, and remaining cilantro. Serve remaining tomatillo sauce on the side.

Tomatillo sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.

Makes 6 to 8 (main course) servings.



12 corn tortillas (5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches in diameter)
About 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Spread out tortillas on a work surface (in 1 layer) and let dry until leathery, about 20 minutes.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot enough to make edge of a tortilla sizzle. Add 1 tortilla to oil, pushing down with a long-handled metal spatula to submerge, and fry 15 seconds.

Using tongs, turn tortilla over and continue frying, pushing down into oil with spatula to keep as flat as possible and turning over occasionally, until tortilla is deep golden and bubbling begins to subside, about 1 minute more.

Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. (Tostada will crisp as it cools.)

Fry with remaining tortillas, 1 at a time, in same manner.

Tostadas can be made 4 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature.

Makes 12 tostadas.

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