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Recipe by Chris Walsh, executive chef, Bite.

Back in the ’80s, when I was executive chef at California Cuisine, cooking went through this really exciting time. All of a sudden there was Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck and a sudden new explosion of local, fresh, and experimental food.

There was a short-lived trend called grazing that I participated in. A bunch of us would drive up to L.A. for the night and hit four or five new restaurants. We would have an appetizer at Spago and then go to Citrus for dessert. We went to Tommy Tang’s, Border Grill, all the places that were new at the time and famous. By only ordering a small plate, we got to try a lot of great food without draining our finances.

But I’ve always liked the idea of bite-sized portions. For the most part, they are the dishes that chefs play around with the most. They are the most experimental. Entrées are more of a middle ground, trying to stay on the safe side. The other thing about an entrée is that they are just so big. With tapas, you can realize, Oh, I was going to order one more thing but I think I’m full.

I don’t go out to eat as much as I used to. Bite is my restaurant, and it’s only two years old so I am there a lot, nurturing it.

After a long day at work, one of my favorite quick meals is to grab a roasted chicken from the deli and make some homemade chicken tostadas. You can fry up some tortillas, mash up some pinto beans, and add sour cream and cheese.

From start to finish, the whole process only takes about 20 minutes, and you can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine before, during, and after preparation. Of course, you can always roast your own chicken, make beans from scratch, and make your own salsa…if you’ve got the time, go for it!

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4–6

  • 1 deli roasted chicken, deboned and shredded
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced (more to taste)
  • 1/2 qt of canola oil, divided use
  • 1 can pinto beans with liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package thin yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 package grated Mexican cheese mix
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • Fresh avocado slices (optional)
  • Your favorite premade salsa or hot sauce

HOW TO DO IT

Debone and shred deli roasted chicken. Mince 2–3 cloves of garlic or run through a garlic press. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and remove the pot from the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn and become bitter. Place beans in the pot with half of their liquid and return to the heat. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 10–15 minutes while stirring and slightly crushing the whole beans.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan with remaining canola oil to approximately 350 degrees and fry tortillas. Drain on paper towels and lightly salt each tortilla. Once the beans and tortillas are ready, assemble the tostadas by spreading a layer of beans on a tortilla, topping with shredded chicken meat, and topping with grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices or chunks, and salsa.

Note: You can substitute refried beans for whole, mashed beans, but I prefer the whole beans. You can also reheat the chicken before assembling the tostadas if you wish.

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