Tostadas de Chorizo

After having watched a couple episodes of Rick Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time on Friday night, because we are the coolest people around, Ryan got inspired to make a fantastic weekend lunch. These crispy back yard snacks with their savory spicy chorizo, salty creamy cheese, and perky salsa provided much-needed fortification for an afternoon of mucking out the shed.

Side note – instead of serranos, we actually used these mystery peppers Ryan’s growing in the yard.  They’re spicy and fruity and red, maybe 2 inches long.  There’s a taqueria down the way and one day we noticed a hand-painted sign from the yard next door that said “AQUI VENDE CHILES” which means “we sell chiles here” (not quite but close enough).  We peeked through the fence and lo and behold the little yard was crammed full of big leafy chile plants, all different kinds, all really healthy.  So while I waited for our burritos, Ryan went over to investigate.

After a few minutes of finding the right family member – grandpa, it seems – and some Spanglish negotiations, he came away with these random peppers and one that the seller called “manzanilla” which means little apple.  They are slightly spicy – I’d call them perky – and very crisply fruity, much like an apple.  $7 each.  One of the many reasons why Oakland is wonderful.

tostadas de chorizo

Tostadas de Chorizo
sort of as seen on Mexico: One Plate at a Time

  • 6 oz chorizo, browned and drained
  • 6 oz Oaxacan cheese, Monterey jack, or queso fresco*, grated or crumbled
  • Avocado Salsa (see below)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • a few tbsp of olive oil, vegetable oil, or bacon fat (mmmm)

* less melty than the other two – your choice

First, make your avocado salsa:

  • 3 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 white onion, peels on, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, stemmed and rough chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 fat avocado
  • 1 lime

Fire up your grill, or a big heavy dry saute or griddle pan if you’re doing this indoors. Char the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and poblano until they are good and black on a couple of sides – except the onion, stick to the skin side of that one. Put them all in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. (You can also do this under the broiler)

Peel the skins off the onion, garlic, and poblano, and take off the pepper’s stem. Cut the tomatillos in quarters. Put all roasty veggies, the serranos, cilantro, and the sweet sweet avocado flesh into the blender and whirl until sort of smooth. Add salt and lime juice to taste and set aside.

Brush the tortillas with the oil or bacon fat, and grill or toast in a saute or griddle pan for a minute or two until crispy. Sprinkle each with a little chorizo and a little cheese, and drizzle on a little salsa. Return to the grill/pan for a minute or two to melt the cheese. Nosh.

Welcome Back Adam!

Adam is back from his overseas adventures for a little while, and ever since he bought his plane ticket he’d been craving a burrito from Taqueria El Castillito (the one at Church and Market). Now, try as I might, I have not yet come close to sampling all the best burritos in the city, let alone the greater bay area. But thus far I consider Castillito’s to be the best around, hands down. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. They warm up the tortilla on the griddle, rather than in a steamer. The tortilla comes out flaky and toasty, rather than gummy and damp.
  2. The carnitas is top notch. Rich, tender, and grilled alongside the tortilla for long enough to get a little crispy in spots.
  3. If you get the super burrito, the cheese is sliced and slapped on when the tortilla’s grilling so it gets nice and melty, as opposed to cold shredded cheese chucked in the middle along with everything else.
  4. You can get avocado as well as guacamole, and I strongly recommend getting the former in lieu of the latter. They will pick up a big spoon and half an avocado, and with whiplike precision and speed sling thin slices of avo into your burrito until the skin is scraped clean.
  5. There’s a guy who works there who can meow like an alley cat. He does it so well that if I hadn’t seen him do it once, I would still think they had a stray tied to a pipe in the back somewhere. When Adam and I lived in the neighborhood and went to Castillito more often, he’d sometimes draw a flower on the foil in which my pending dinner was wrapped.
  6. Reliably excellent horchata. Horchata is a cinnamony sweet rice milk concoction found in every SF taqueria, but Castillito’s is consistently well-balanced – not too thick, not too sweet, not too strong.
  7. If you’re not feeling the standard burrito (or are hung over and need something greasier), a couple of other options stand in nicely. The quesadilla suiza is a beefy cheesy grease bomb….but you know, in a good way. The chorizo-and-eggs breakfast burrito is another take on the delicious grease bomb. I like mine with cheese, a little bit of rice, some pinto beans, and of course, avocado.

Definitely a meal worthy of Adam’s months-long craving. And now my own craving has kicked back in…