You haven't lived until you've made your own tortilla chips. And once you try these, your standard industrially-manufactured Tostitos will never taste the same again.
These chips are best when eaten just a bare minute or two after they've been cooked and seasoned to your liking. The hot oil caramelizes the starches in the corn tortilla, giving these chips a subtle, slightly sweet taste that you'll never find in the store-bought version.
Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips
Corn oil, for frying
Fresh corn tortillas
1) Heat oil in a deep, non-stick pan to medium/medium-high heat. Use enough oil so that it is at least 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch deep (note: do not heat the oil so much that it begins smoking).
2) Drop handfuls of tortillas at a time into the oil. Flip them over as necessary.
3) Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with a dash of salt, pepper or other desired spices.
A few recipe notes:
1) Don't confuse flour and corn tortillas. You must use corn tortillas for this recipe.
2) I suggest using smaller, 6-inch or so diameter corn tortillas. You'll find it easiest to process that size into chip-sized wedges. All it takes is three quick cuts with a knife:
3) These chips are made the same way our Tapas-Style Potato Chips were made, except that you can make these guys even more quickly and easily. But note that because they cook through in just a couple of minutes, you've got to stand there and keep an eye on them.
4) On seasonings: You can use whatever seasonings you choose, and I encourage you to experiment. However, I don't recommend oversalting--it will mask the subtly sweet taste of these chips. We used just a few flakes of kosher salt and a few liberal shakes of cayenne pepper. Pure heaven. You can try all sorts of spice modifications: thyme, hot curry, chipotle powder, cumin, paprika--or a combination of any or all of the above!
5) Frugality alert: You don't have to dump out the oil after just one use. We've reused frying oil up to four or five times without problems. In fact, on days when we're feeling particularly lazy but still want to have tortilla chips or patatas fritas again tomorrow, we'll just leave the oil in a covered pan and reheat it the next day. Obviously, though, never leave hot oil unattended in the kitchen, especially if you have young kids in the house.
6) I'd be remiss if I wrote a fried food recipe and I didn't address any health and diet questions surrounding the type of oil I used and why. Since I can quickly see this issue going way beyond the scope of a simple recipe post, I'll leave you with a one-sentence rule of thumb: Try and always use oils that are liquid at room temperature, because they're more likely to stay liquid when they're floating around in your arteries. I used corn oil (rather than olive oil, which I typically prefer) because it smokes at a higher temperature, and thus is better suited for deep frying.
Oils which are solid at room temperature, including hydrogenated oils of all types, may have certain shelf-life and culinary advantages (especially for industrial snackfood manufacturers), but they have few redeeming health advantages. Those are the types of oils I generally avoid, except in rare instances.
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