The first step is to doctor up the refried beans. Into a small saucepan,
heat the bacon grease. When hot, add the canned beans, water, salt, pepper,
chili powder, cumin, fajita seasoning and picante sauce. Stir well and
reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes while
preparing all the other items. Stir several times to avoid burning.
Fry the corn tortillas, one at a time, in hot oil (350°).
Put the tortilla
into the oil, let fry for about 20 seconds, then turn over with tongs.
Let fry for about 2 minutes, then turn over again.
The white or yellow corn tortilla should turn a golden brown,
but not a dark brown. The red tortillas will turn a darker shade of
red and all will quite bubbling when they are completely fried throughout.
Remove when done and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Allow 1 chalupa per person if serving as an appetizer, two if for the entree.
Grate the cheese using a fine grater or processor blade. Place in
bag or cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the chalupas.
Core, wash, and dry the iceberg lettuce. You will cut the lettuce
fine strips (1/8 or less). Take a large chunk and hold in one hand while
carefully slicing off thin strips. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Core the tomato, then cut into quarters. Slice each quarter down
center, then cut across both these pieces so that you have 1/2 or smaller
pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Remove the beans from the heat and pour into a glass bowl.
This will help them thicken before using on the chalupas. They should
be fairly thick, but not runny. Turn on the broiler and preheat oven
while preparing the shells. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, spread
a thin layer of beans (1/4 or less) on each shell. Spread a thin layer of
cheese on top of the beans. Place on a cookie sheet and place under the
broiler until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove and place a small
handful of the shredded lettuce on top of the cheese. Next, sprinkle some
chopped tomatoes on top of the lettuce. It should resemble a mound.
Last, sprinkle some of the remaining grated cheese and top with paprika.
Serve immediately with picante sauce and ranch dressing.
They can be eaten by picking up with your fingers, but are
much easier to eat with a fork. To make Chalupas Compuestas,
add a dollop of guacamole on top of each chalupa. For parties,
cut the corn tortillas with a coffee can to 3-4 inches before frying
and let guests assemble themselves !