Photo Credit: Rebecca Smith Hurd.
Chalupas, an iconic street food of Puebla, are so popular that you will find them served at the top restaurants. They have a resemblance to tostadas and are the perfect antojito for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. To put it simply, chalupas are fried thick tortillas topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion and sometimes queso fresco.
There are two versions on the culinary origins of chalupas. The first is that it gets its name from baskets.
According to “All About Puebla”,Ch alupas date back to the Colonial era, when Spanish settlers spent a good part of their days washing clothes by the Almoloya (San Francisco) River. It’s said that the women carried everything to the river in big baskets made of wood called chalupas, after which they’d rush home and quickly fry up corn tortillas in lard, top them with salsa, shredded beef or pork, and chopped onion – and call it dinner.
The second is that they are named after the Aztec boats (chalupas) used in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.
Named for the canoe-like boats that the Aztecs used to navigate the canals of their ancient capitol Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, chalupas are one of the most popular snacks in Central Mexico. They are a specialty of the city of Puebla, where they are served everywhere from street stands to elegant restaurants. They are smaller than those found in other regions, and the silver dollar size chalupas sold in the San Francisco plaza are famous throughout the country.
Chalupas are an excellent way to use leftover roast meat or chicken, but can also be served with no meat at all. Although many people prefer to cook without lard, chalupas just do not taste the same without it. Corn oil may be substituted, but don’t expect the authentic, succulent flavor of chalupas fried in manteca.
Makes 24, Serves 6
1/2 cup manteca (pork lard) or corn oil
24 3 inch-diameter tortillas
3/4-1 cup salsa verde
3/4-1 cup salsa roja
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded beef, pork or chicken
1 1/2 cups queso fresco or mild feta cheese
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil or lard until a few drops of water sprinkled into the pan bounce and sizzle.
Place tortillas, as many as will fit, into the pan and soft-fry them, just 3-4 seconds on each side. They should remain pliable and not crispy. Drain them well on paper towels as they are removed from the pan.
Spoon salsa verde, about 1 tablespoon per chalupa, over half of them, and salsa roja over the other half. Top each with a bit of shredded meat, crumbled cheese and onion.