Happy National Tortilla Chip Day! How Will You Devour Yours?
All hail to the tortilla chip. That which is the most scrumptious of day-time snack, a fine platter to share between friends and loved ones, and a lip-smacking appetiser to be indulged as part of a two or three course feast. This, and so much more, makes the Mexican delicacy one of the most popular snacks, starters or, on some dark days, full blown meals, of this day and age – resulting in the creation of National Tortilla Chip Day!
Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to tortilla chips, whose toppings can come in a variety of forms – serving to arouse many a palate. Typical examples of such include the likes of guacamole, relish and tomato salsa, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corn based treat, with pulled pork, melted cheese and chilli being just three of the delectable alternatives that will ensure that the taste buds of the many will be tantalised, rather than the few.
One of the many outlandish ‘celebration days’, right up there with National Chocolate Cake Day, National Chili Day and British Pie Week, while not being quite as ridiculous as the National Days of the tiara and the awkward moments, National Tortilla Day falls on the 24th February and can be celebrated in a number of different ways. Sharing a plate with a loved one at a restaurant is a popular choice, especially if said eatery offers the fabulous Gourmet Society discount, though making your way over to the local cinema could be just as gratifying, and perhaps a tad more entertaining, of an experience. One other option, and the one that will almost certainly be chosen by this fairly humble, and very out-of-pocket writer, is to munch on this popular mealtime treat in the comfort of one’s own home, with Netflix at the ready.
For those, like me, that would prefer the latter option, there are plenty of tortilla chip brands that can be bought at great value, including Doritos, Tostitos and Nacho Cheese – though for the particularly adventurous, there is always the opportunity to create your own. To do so, here is a quick and simple recipe for making plenty of the oh so delightful nibbles:
12 six-inch corn tortillas
3tbsp vegetable oil
A pinch of salt
No, I’ve not forgotten any ingredients, that is in fact all that is necessary to make enough tortilla chips for two people, or a particularly gluttonous one (around 70 in total), and the method of development is almost as simple, with next to no time being taken out of your day. In fact, it should take a maximum of 15 minutes from conception to completion, and that includes pre-heating the oven! This should be done to a temperature of 200C (or gas mark 6), and simultaneous to you brushing the oil over both sides, seasoning with salt, and cutting the bread into triangles. After-which, arrange the chips in a single layer on one or two baking sheets and cook for 7-8 minutes before leaving to rest for a few more minutes in order to keep you from burning your hands upon consumption.
And if you’ve decided to go for the whole hog, why not try your hand at concocting your own dips, fillings or toppers? Be it melting cheese over the top yourself, where anything from traditional Cheddar to Monterey Jack will suffice, pouring over a warmed-up version of last night’s chili, or producing your very own masterpiece from the options detailed below, the eating is always more fulfilling when your own blood, sweat and tears (and as your mum would say, love) has gone into it. Not literally of course, an extra seasoning should suffice when it comes to creating your own.
Three large, ripe avocados
Lime or lemon juice (1 recommended but can alter the dosage depending on the required tartness)
Half a red onion, finely diced (here’s where the tears come in)
A sprinkle of salt
A dash of black pepper
A handful of chopped coriander leaves
Three tsp chipotle paste
Two green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, for the sweat – add more for further spice)
Half a ripe tomato, with seeds and pulp removed (again, optional)
Halve and de-stone the avocados before spooning the flesh into a bowl and pouring over the lime juice and sprinkling over the salt and pepper. This must then be crushed until pureed, for which I would recommend a potato masher, previous to adding in the rest of the ingredients in any order that you feel like. Be sure to make this well in advance and refrigerate with plastic wrap covering the bowl – ensuring that no air can reach it and turn it a dirty shade of brown.
Four-six medium tomatoes
Two jalapeno peppers
Eight unpeeled garlic cloves
The other half of the red onion, finely diced
Two tbsp roughly chopped coriander
Freshly squeezed lime juice (1 should do the job but again, increase dosage for a sharper finish)
Four tsp tomato puree
Splash of white wine vinegar
A pinch of salt
A scattering of pepper
To begin, cut the tomatoes side up in a shallow baking tray, season and place under the grill until blackened, which should take around 15 minutes. In the meantime, also blacken the jalapeno peppers and garlic in a dry, non-stick frying pan, continuously turning for as long as ten minutes, peeling the garlic and putting it in a food processor when finished. Next, steam the jalapenos before peeling, deseeding and stemming and add the flesh to the food processor along with the rest of what’s required. Leave to cool once finished for the best result.
The Pulled Pork
One boneless pork shoulder
One-two tbsp olive oil
Two tsp paprika
One tbsp salt
A pinch of black pepper
One tsp garlic powder
A quarter tsp of chilli powder
A quarter tsp mustard powder
A sprinkle of ground Cayenne pepper (optional)
Four tbsp of lager
Four tbsp of cider vinegar
The Barbecue Sauce
Two tbsp unsalted butter
Four tbsp tomato sauce
Two tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Four tbsp orange juice
Two tbsp packed brown sugar
Four tbsp white wine vinegar
Four tbsp honey
Two tbsp syrup (optional for extra sweetness)
Monterey Jack Cheese (optional)
As a lover of all things barbecue, this is certainly my go-to when it comes to topping my tortilla chips. Commence with the spice rub, where you’ll whisk together the paprika, salt, pepper, the garlic, chilli and mustard powder, as well as the Cayenne pepper if required – massaging it into the pork, being sure to cover on both sides.
To follow, place the rubbed pork into a large preheated oven and add the beer and cider vinegar before covering and cooking for three hours, basting occasionally until the pork easily falls apart. Once you’re confident the meat is cooked, cut off all the excess fat that you can and carefully shred the meat (this makes for a harder job if it has cooled), placing it back into the oven when completed, tossing it with its cooking juices and setting it aside until you’re ready to move along with the recipe.
While the pork is cooking, it is time for the creation of what is, at least in my eyes, the starring role of the dish; the barbecue sauce. To do so, simply pour all of the remaining ingredients into a separate dish (barring the cheese of course, which is just an added extra upon completion), and place the mixture into the oven until suitable thick. Bring the two together once you’re satisfied with both, reheating for around ten minutes so that the sauce sticks successfully to the shredded meat – resulting in a truly wondrous pairing. Melt the cheese over afterwards if you desire a holy trinity of flavour.
Whatever you’re plans are, we at Gourmet Society implore you to add the tortilla chip into your schedule for the day, whether that means using one of the recipes mentioned above, developing one of your own, just throwing everything onto the chips in one rush of madness, or merely going to the shop and buying a ready-made packet – if there’s ever a day to devour copious amounts of the triangular treat, it’s the 24th February!
By Calum Dewsbury.