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IN the Kitchen: A Proper Chalupa

IN the Kitchen: A Proper Chalupa

by Lorin Gaudin

I’M ABOUT TO PULL THE RUG from under your taco and margarita Cinco de Mayo celebration. First, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day; it celebrates the Mexican victory of the Battle at Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. And tacos aren’t the way to go for this celebration, but chalupas are. The traditional chalupa, a cherished Pueblan street food, is seriously easy to make and great as an antojito (appetizer) or main course.

Now I’m also going to pull the rug from under your Taco Bell dreams…Chalupas are not a big,
puffy taco. A proper chalupa is a crisply fried corn tortilla spread with bright tomatillo salsa, topped by shredded chicken (or pork), a heavy hand of crumbled, salty Queso Fresco (think ricotta salata) and a sprig or two of fresh cilantro. That’s it. Nothing fancy, just simple and simply great. In this recipe I opted for store-bought rotisserie chicken and mini corn tortillas, though the best chalupas are made using fresh corn tortillas from Metairie-based Mawi tortilla bakery or a pack of Hola Nola (made in Gonzales!) corn tortillas from your favorite grocery. Go ahead, make those margaritas and replace the usual Cinco de Mayo tacos with Pueblan chalupas. Que bueno!

(photo: Lorin Gaudin)

8 mini corn tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup tomatillo salsa verde
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Shredded rotisserie chicken, about 2 cups Cilantro for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed medium skillet, pour in 1⁄4 inch of vegetable oil and heat at medium to medium- high. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, gently set a couple tortillas on the oil (they should float), and cook for about a minute, until bubbles form. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of salsa onto the center of the tortilla and lightly spread it around, almost, but not quite to the edge. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the tortilla is a bit brown and crisp.

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Drain the chalupa on a tray lined with paper towels. Continue with the remaining tortillas.

Divide the chicken and queso fresco over the chalupas. Garnish with cilantro, avocado, and extra salsa verde, if desired.

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