Lou's Clues: Chippin' on the cheap: Tortilla chips for 50 cents a bag!
The night before Thanksgiving, we had a bunch of unexpected quests. Since it's the Holiday season, we had more than enough food in the house to throw together a decent meal, but we were out of the usual "chips and dip" type of stuff. Not to worry -- I had a bag of corn tortillas that I had just bought to make enchiladas with the leftover turkey I was expecting, and I had the usual suspects in the fridge -- tomatoes, cilantro, onions in the pantry, etc., so off I went into chip-and-pico-di-gallo mode! Check out this recipe for entertaining, and then check out the dollars spent, or rather, the dollars NOT spent!
Heat a quart or so of either vegetable oil or canola oil in your deep fryer. If you don't have a fryer, a medium sauce pot works fine. Bring the heat up until it hovers around 375; it should stay as close to this temp as possible while you cook as well. While the oil is heating, take about eight tortillas at a time, stack them up, and cut them into quarters. When the oil is ready, ease a layer of these tortilla wedges into the oil, and leave them there for about six to eight minutes. Then, remove and dump onto a bowl lined with paper towels. Voila! Homemade tortilla chips!
While they're still hot, go ahead and season them -- add a sprinkle of salt or drizzle of lime, or go the sweet route and sprinkle the chips with cinnamon and sugar. If you're on a diet, these are just as tasty if you leave them plain, without any of the added sugar or sodium.
Easy Pico de Gallo:
Chop a couple of fresh tomatoes into small pieces and put into a bowl. Then, add about one whole medium-size onion (minced), about one-fourth cup of chopped cilantro, and some chopped chilies of your choice (jalapenos are my personal fave). Toss in a little bit of salt and pepper to liven everything up, then the whole concoction is mixed and served chilled. Unlike salsa, pico de gallo doesn't have to be cooked before eating. The term "pico de gallo," by the way, refers to the way it used to be eaten - with the thumb and forefinger, thus imitating the action of the "beak of the rooster!"
So there you have it: the lowdown on another one of my Scratch Kitchen favorites for saving money. A package of corn tortillas usually runs around $1.29 in most supermarkets, and weighs in at 33 oz. This gives you just a tick under three 12-ounce bags, which could run you up to $9 at the same grocery store! Figuring in the price of the oil, your chips come in at around 50 cents per bag and, believe me, they taste way better than anything that was made three months ago and has spent most of its life vacuum packed on a shelf!
Chef Louie hosts Good Day Food & Wine, a nationally syndicated weekend radio show. A culinary veteran, Chef Louie pledges to empower you in the kitchen and supermarket, and help you eat better, entertain better and keep more of that hard-earned money close to home. Sign up for his free e-newsletter here.