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Appetizers, Vegetarian

Chicharrones de queso with tomatillo-radish salsa and tortillas

Chicharrones de queso with tomatillo-radish salsa and tortillas
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Sometimes when I make a grilled cheese sandwich, I deliberately load the bread with far more cheese than it can handle, knowing full well that as the sandwich cooks, the cheddar or Emmentaler will inevitably spill over the sides and ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour | Serves 6
  • 5 tomatillos, peeled of their husks and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cucumber (not English), peeled, seeded and finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small bunch radishes, trimmed and finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and minced (about 1/2 packed cup)
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
  • Zest and juice of 2 large limes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, coarsely grated with a box grater (about 3 cups)

Step 1Make the salsa: In a large bowl, combine the tomatillos, cucumber, radishes, cilantro, red onion, jalapenos, lime zest and juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt. Toss to combine, then transfer to a nonreactive container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2Warm the tortillas. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the tortillas in a damp towel and place the towel on a baking sheet. Heat the tortillas just until warmed through.

Step 3Heat an 8- to 9-inch diameter nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Scatter one-half cup grated cheese in a circle, about 7 inches in diameter. As the cheese melts, spread it evenly across the pan so it cooks evenly, spreading the cheese further out to the edges of the pan as it melts. Rotate the pan as needed so the cheese cooks evenly. Once the cheese starts to crisp on the bottom and lightly color on the top, 6 to 7 minutes, blot dry and continue cooking until golden brown, another minute or two.

Step 4Using a plastic spatula, remove the cheese from the pan. Immediately form the cheese into a cone or drape it over a rolling pin, using a spatula and being careful, as the cheese is quite hot. It will cool very quickly, becoming crunchy and keeping whatever shape you form it into. Cool on paper towels and repeat until all of the cheese has been used. Serve the chicharrones with the warm tortillas and a bowl of salsa.

Note: The chicharrones de queso are adapted from Jimmy Shaw, chef-owner of Loteria Grill, who serves them with warm tortillas, guacamole and salsa verde. Make the salsa one day ahead to allow the flavors to blend. You will have extra salsa; save the remainder for another use.


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