Freshly fried tortilla chips turn a bowl of salsa into a fiesta. Look for high-quality com tortillas at Latino markets—they will be fresher than the typical supermarket variety and contain fewer preservatives. The crispest chips are made from slightly stale tortillas, but fresh ones can be baked to dry them out before frying.
- 12 corn tortillas, cut into sixths
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Salt to taste
1. Position the racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Spread the tortilla wedges on two baking sheets. Bake, switching the positions of the sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking, until the tortillas are slightly dried, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. (You can skip this procedure if your tortillas are stale.)
3. Line a baking sheet with crumpled paper towels and set aside. Pour enough oil into a deep Dutch oven to come about 3 inches up the sides. Heat over high heat until a deep-frying thermometer reads 365°F. In batches, without crowding, deep-fry the tortillas until golden brown, about 1 minute. Using a wire-mesh skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain and cool, separating each layer of chips with more paper towels. As soon as all of the chips are fried and drained, transfer to a large roasting pan to store. (The chips can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead and stored uncovered at room temperature.)
4. Just before serving, sprinkle with salt.
Baked Tortilla Chips: Spread the dried (or stale) tortilla wedges in single layers on two baking sheets and spray with vegetable oil. Turn and spray again. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until the tortillas are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Halfway through baking, stir the tortillas and switch the positions of the racks from top to bottom.
This recipe serves 6. Nutritional information includes 1/2 teaspoon of added salt and uses the baked method instead of the fry method.