A little shortcut: If you don’t have time to fry the tortillas, you can cheat and crack open a hard corn taco shell and place the two halves on the plate as a base, then build the tostada from there.
For the chicken:
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (3/4 to 1 pound total)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Optional for flavoring the poaching liquid: whole peppercorns, sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano, bay leaves, whole garlic cloves or halved shallots, and lemon slices
For the chipotle dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from about 1 lime)
- 1 teaspoon pureed chipotles in adobo sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
For the cilantro crema:
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
For the tostadas:
- Vegetable or canola oil for pan frying
- 4 6-inch corn tortillas (or tortillas with a blend of flour and corn such as La Tortilla Factory 50/50)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 heart of romaine, thinly sliced crosswise into slivers (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup diced plum tomato
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, or crumbled cotija cheese
1 Cook the chicken. Place the chicken breasts, salt, pepper, and any optional flavoring extras in a small pot. Add water to cover by 1 inch and place over medium-high heat.
Cover the pot and bring the chicken to simmer for 8 to 12 minutes until it is cooked through and registers at least 165°F with a digital thermometer. Exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
2 Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken from the heat and remove the chicken from the liquid. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and set to the side (the remainder can be strained and saved for another recipe).
When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
3 Make the chipotle dressing: In a small bowl or container with a lid, combine the olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, the pureed chipotle in adobo (if using), and shallot. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4 Make the lime crema: In another small bowl or container, combine the sour cream, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and the cilantro.
5 Pan fry the tortillas: Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until a tiny flick of water into the pan sizzles on contact. Pan fry the tortillas one at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned and fairly crisp.
Add a bit more oil if needed during the frying process. Transfer the tortillas to paper towels as they finish cooking.
6 Cook the garlic and beans: Pour off any excess oil from the skillet, leaving a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Return to medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cumin and sauté for 30 seconds until you can smell the seasonings and the garlic starts to turn golden.
Add the beans and stir well, then add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the beans are hot and the liquid reduces to a glaze on the beans—if it starts to look dry you can add a bit more of the reserved liquid.
7 Serve the tostadas: Place each of the tortillas on a plate and pile 1 cup of lettuce onto each.
Divide the warm beans equally over the lettuce, then repeat the same process with the chicken, tomatoes, and avocados. Finally, top the tostadas with the cheese and cilantro. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the tostadas and finish with a dollop of crema. Serve immediately.