Stack 4 of the tortillas and cut them into 4 pieshaped wedges. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Spread the tortilla pieces on a rack and dry them in the sun, if possible. If there is no sun or you are in a hurry, dry them in a 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes. In a shallow bowl, stir together the salt and water until the water has dissolved. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a small skillet. Submerge a good handful of the tortilla pieces in the salt mixture for a moment, then drain and shake them off. Immediately throw them into the hot oil and stand back the oil will splatter. Turn them over from time to time and cook for about 4 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the tortillas. Transfer with a slotted spoon (draining the excess oil back into the pan for a moment) to a double thickness of paper towels. Continue dipping and frying the remaining tortilla pieces.
Serve the totopos on a large round platter with a bowl of Tomatillo Guacamole, lemon wedges, and sprigs of cilantro.
Yield: 1 quart
In a large bowl, combine the onion, chiles, cilantro, and salt. Add the roasted tomatillos a few at a time, mashing and grinding the skin as finely as possible with a fork or a pestle. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits (reserve 3 of the pits). Scoop out the flesh and mash it roughly into the mixture, turning it over from the bottom so that the seasonings are well distributed. The guacamole should not be smooth, it should have some texture. Nestle the reserved pits back into the mixture and scatter the shallots and cilantro leaves over the top. Serve immediately.
To roast a tomatillo, place the whole fruit (with the husk still on) onto a hot griddle or dry castiron skillet. Roast, turning occasionally, until the fruit is fairly soft and the skin is lightly charred. Use as directed, including the skin.
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved