Authenticity Alert: As in, this is not authentic but it is far, far too tasty not to share, and so, I am telling you now that I am completely not responsible for anyone taking offense to what I’ve done to Tex-Mex or Mexican cuisine. Honestly, I don’t even know enough to tell you which of those categories it strays from the most. All I know is you should make these tonight.
I know. Carnitas are pork. Crispy, delicious, succulent little fried bits of braised pork. This is not that. But it is the chicken equivalent and I’ll be darned if it isn’t crispy, delicious, succulent little fried bits of chicken on a crunchy fried tortilla with pan sauces and all the things that are great and good about Tex Mex food piled on top. Hallelujah, Amen and pass the tostadas.
First, though, I have to tell you a little story.
Last week there was a day that mucho much candy entered our home. I think you know which day I mean. When I say much candy, let me set the stage. Five grandsons, one Nana, and a good working knowledge of which houses in town give out the best goodies. There was so much candy that I feared for the peace in our home. Or at least for the textured ceiling. I mean honestly, sugared up kids bouncing off the ceiling leaves a mark. Each child had netted close to three pounds of candy in a little over an hour of wandering the beautiful streets of Geneseo. I had visions of weeks of blue tongues and green lips and twirly eyes. After forty-eight hours of utter chaos, I laid the smack down.
“Guys. You can each choose ten pieces of candy and put them in one of these bags,” (here I brandished pre-labeled zipper top bags), “Those are your pieces. You can stretch them out as long as you want. The rest of the loot goes into this bag,” (I waved a two-and-a-half gallon zipper top bag), “This is the family bag. I’ll use it in brownies and on cakes and all sorts of good stuff like that.” Then I braced myself for the blow-back.
“Cool! You’ll make brownies?” said one son while the others sorted through to pick their ten favourite pieces before handing over the rest. Don’t pity them. They each had at least two regulation sized, honest-to-goodness candy bars in their bags. Geneseo folks don’t mess around.
The rest of the candy went into the mega bag and then into the broom closet and I didn’t think of it for a few days.
Then came this weekend…
The weather was glorious. The sun was shining, the breeze blew and we had loads of yard work to do to prepare for the winter weather that’s right around the corner. My husband and I were like two ships passing in the pretty-nifty day. We were hanging laundry on lines, stacking wood, trimming weeds and whatnot when I asked, “Has anyone seen Daddy?”
Our youngest said, “Daddy’s out in the annex eating candy.” I said, “Hey. Don’t tell fibs. The candy isn’t out there. Is Daddy really in the annex*?”, then got distracted by yet another yard chore.
*Before you start thinking I’m all fancy with my annex let me explain that it is a large, uninsulated, exterior-walls-only room with window openings (sans glass) that is full of wood for keeping us warm over the winter and is attached to the house. Why such a hoity-toity name? Because I can. And technically? I’m right. Plllllbbbbbt.
Later that night when the kids were all tucked cozily into their beds, my husband brought the loot bag to the den have a little sweet snack. I reached in for a Heath bar (again, Geneseo gets mega points) and asked my husband how they got so cold. I wondered aloud whether there was a problem with the insulation in the broom closet. He responded, “I’m keeping them in the annex in a locked box. Hey! Where you going?”
I went straight upstairs to apologize to my son then came back down for the Heath bar.
The candy has been flying like glitter before a cheerleading tournament. People are fired up here, self included, so we needed something to counteract all that sugar and food dye. Enter mondo protein meals, stage left.
Protein gives your body something to do other than jitter. I can’t think of a simpler way to get a delicious protein-packed meal into you than these Carnitas-style Chicken Tostadas. The body soothing protein comes in the form of three-ingredient braised chicken that is then shredded and dropped into a wicked hot pan with a little oil so that it is crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. This is, quite possibly, the easiest meal this side of heaven.
Toast or fry some corn tortillas and pile on refried beans (the protein fairy says hi!), the crispy chicken, some lettuce, cheese (Huzzah for more protein!), hot sauce or The Sauce, some candied jalapenos, and a fistful of chopped cilantro if you fancy it. Now comes the only difficult part of the whole process; balancing the whole shebang and getting it to your mouth. I do advise you to eat this over a plate. Then eat another. Maybe one more? Now call everything that fell onto your plate a taco salad. See? I love you. And I’m not at all sugared up*.
*Chocolate bars don’t have sugar, right?