Sadly, finding a good Oaxacan tlayuda — that smoky, rustic treat of crispy tortilla topped with salsa, brothy bean mash and chorizo (or pork cecina or beef tasajo) — isn’t an easy an option for most of us here in the U.S.
We simply don’t have the crop of Mexican corn to create the unique size and texture for the leathery tortillas.
What we do have, however, are these grilled tostadas to get us just a little closer to that Oaxacan flavor. And I think you’re going to love them.
First, you’ll grill the corn tortillas to get them crispy, then you’ll brush them with a little fat, finish the crossing and top them with seasonal ingredients. The recipe below calls for classic summertime ingredients — it’s basically mimicking a BLT — but the sky really is the limit with grilled tostadas.
For example, I always like to start with something creamy (like this avocado mayo) or guacamole or mashed beans, then add a vegetable cut into small pieces along with meat or shrimp, and maybe a splash of salsa and final sprinkle of fresh cheese.
Lay the tortillas in a single layer, cover with a dish towel or napkin and let them dry for about a half hour (depending on their moistness) until they are leathery—this will enable them to crisp thoroughly on the grill.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the egg yolks and lime juice and pulse until blended. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil (the yolks and oil should emulsify and become creamy). Turn the machine off, add the avocado, green chile and cilantro. Let the processor run for another 20 seconds to ensure the additional ingredients are incorporated. You may have to stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and set aside.
In a large (10-inch) skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Strain the fat into a small bowl—you need ¼ cup bacon fat (if you’re lacking, add vegetable oil to bring it to that quantity).
When the tortillas are ready, turn on a gas grill to medium or light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until medium hot and covered with grey ash. When you’re ready to serve, lay several tortillas on the grill and turn every 20 seconds or so until they're golden brown and crasker-crisp; this will take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the heat of your fire. Brush the top of each tortilla generously with the bacon fat or oil and let the tortillas crisp a little longer, then remove them to a serving platter. Spread on some spicy avocado mayo and top with a portion of the tomatoes. Sprinkle each tostada with about a tablespoon of bacon, garnish with cilantro leaves and immediately serve to your guests while you make the next round.