There is one thing that my family members all have in common: a love of chalupa night. For those of you not familiar with the term, a chalupa is similar to what most of the rest of the country calls a tostada (thanks to that bastion of cultural adulteration, Taco Bell). However, here in Texas - and especially in South Texas where my family hails from - it's a chalupa. To be more specific, chalupa compuesta, meaning "decked-out chalupa." I've been eating these things since I was a little tot, and my sister and I are passing on the tradition to our children and spouses. That's my son to the left, who has already eaten off the cheese, tomatoes & guacamole.
We have often remarked that we've never had as good of a chalupa at a restaurant as we can make at home. And the ingredients are so simple. You can go the easy, convenient route of pre-shredded cheese and canned beans (believe me, I do this too when feeling lazy), but here's my recipe to make killer chalupas, Austin style. By the way, I never measure anything, so all amounts are approximate.
Move To Austin's Killer Chalupa Compuestas
- 12 tostada shells (especially from local tortillaria, El Milagro, which can be found at most Austin grocery stores.)
- 1 pint of refried beans (especially from local taqueria, Juan in a Million, which are the best beans in town. If unavailable but you still want the WOW factor, heat up some bacon grease and chopped garlic and then stir in 2 cans of refried beans)
- 1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 large Haas avocados
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- pinch of chili powder, salt & pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- sour cream
- Crystal Hot Sauce, optional
- Stick the tostada shells in a toaster oven set at a low tempature and let them warm up. You can also do this in the oven - like at 250 degrees. This is an important step for yumminess, so don't skip it. Also - they'll burn if you just toast them. Low heat for 10 minutes is key.
- Heat up the refried beans on the stove (now's the time to do bacon grease and garlic if all you have are canned beans. Don't be afraid, it'll be worth it. )
- Chop up the tomatoes, reserving the juice & seeds for the guacamole.
- Make your guacamole. I love a simple one, so I mash up the avocado in the reserved tomato juice/seeds, then add the lemon juice and a pinch of chili powder, salt and pepper. You can super charge your guacamole with cilantro, garlic & onions if you like.
- Chop up your lettuce. I just eyeball the amount, but you might need about 2 cups worth.
- Shred your cheese. I like to do a fine shred so the cheese can get all yummy melty.
- Call the gang to dinner. We learned a great call while visiting friends in Houston: "Time to dip your plate, y'all!"
To assemble, go in this order:
- heated tostada shell
- refried beans
- sour cream
- dash of Crystal
To eat it, balance it in your hand and take a bite. It will be messy, but soooo worth it.