EL MINUTO’S CHEESE CRISPS (one crisp, from Linda Ronstadt)

El Minuto is a Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, where Linda Ronstadt grew up.  It is located across the street from the building where her brother worked as the chief of police.  She included this recipe in her memoir/cookbook, Feels Like Home:  A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands. 

vegetable oil, for frying

one (10 to 12 inch) flour tortilla

½ cup grated cheese, ideally equal parts cheddar and Monterey jack

canned or fresh roasted strips (or mince) of green chiles (optional)


1.   Heat your broiler.

2.  Cover the bottom of a frying pan with about ½ inch of oil, just enough to completely cover the tortilla.  Heat over medium high until shimmering but not smoking.  Slide the tortilla into the pan and fry it for 30 to 60 seconds until lightly golden, pressing down with a spatula to keep it flat. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and get crisp. (You can heat the tortillas on a dry griddle or frying pan, too, if you want to use less fat, but your crisp won’t be as good as El Minuto’s.)

3.   Transfer the tortilla to a baking sheet, top with the grated cheese and broil it just until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the tortilla is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and top with green chiles, if using.  Serve immediately to someone you love, then make another one for yourself.

from Linda Ronstadt, Feels Like Home:  A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands, written by Linda Ronstadt with Lawrence Downes and adapted for the New York Times by Kim Seversen.

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