Chilaquiles. Crispy saucey cheesey. Tortillas, preferably stale, smothered in hot sauce, dotted with cheese and garnished with raw onions. This dish easily belongs in the family of cucina povera, dishes that are irresistible, much loved, cost little, and are made with common pantry ingredients. Every food culture has them and they are often the go to meal on busy days or the quick meal for one. In fact, this is a dish I taught my husband early on in our marriage and he mastered it on his first attempt!
Chilaquiles is typically a breakfast dish. Tortillas, stale from the previous evening’s meal, are torn into pieces and heated in oil until crisp (you choose your level of crispness). I rarely have left over tortillas so don’t let that deter you. On occasion, when I remember, I leave tortillas out overnight so that they dry out a bit. The sauce can be either red or green and I make it with whatever chiles I have on hand. As it is a dish from the cucina povera, there are infinite variations. The cheese is usually a queso fresco or casera but I like using cotija, goat, and even a sharp white cheddar in a pinch. And for the garnish? Well something fresh and crunchy, I like using scallions and radishes fresh from the garden.
- 2 ½ oz of dried chile California, seed and veins removed
- 10 oz of fresh tomatillos, without the husks
- half an onion, cut into slices
- 3 cloves of garlic
1. Place the chiles and tomatillos in a pan and cover with 2 cups of water.
2. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chiles are soft.
3. Let cool.
4. Place contents of the pan in a blender with the onion, garlic, and a tablespoon of salt.
5. Buzz until smooth.
* This makes a quart of sauce and it keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Please note that the addition of raw onion makes the salsa jelly-like. Don’t throw it out, it isn’t bad! It will loosen when heated.
- Tortillas cut into triangles. Three to four per person plus a couple for the pan.
- Salsa colorada. I used one cup of salsa for 8 tortillas.
- Goat cheese
- Sliced radishes and scallions
1. Heat the sauce in a sauce pan. The sauce should be hot when added to the tortillas as this will help keep the crunch.
2. In a skillet add olive oil, and when hot, the tortilla triangles. Evenly coat the tortillas with the oil and heat until they are brown and crisp.
3. Add the warmed salsa and sprinkle with salt.
4. At this point, turn of the heat. This is when I add the cheese, in this case spoonfuls of goat cheese. Cover and let the cheese get soft and get gooey.
When serving, add sliced raw onions and radishes. I usually have green onions and radishes in the garden year round so that is what I use. Eggs always accompany chilaquiles. Fried, scrambled, poached… you choose. And on the weekend, when this becomes a leisurely brunch-time dish, I fry up some bacon, too. And there is no reason this can’t be dinner.SHARE