Chicharrones de queso with tomatillo-radish salsa and tortillas

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 6
Chicharrones de queso with tomatillo-radish salsa and tortillas
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Make 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.


Warm 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.


Heat 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.


Using 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.

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.

Amy Scattergood is a staff writer for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times.
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