Mexican Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles have become one of my favorite things to try at a Mexican restaurant. Each restaurant makes them very differently, but they’re always delicious. It’s a nice break from the more common enchiladas and tacos. At the core of chilaquiles is tortilla chips cooked in a chile sauce until they are softened, and topped with sour cream and/or queso fresco to serve.  About a month ago, I decided I really should learn to make this wonderful dish at home.

Coincidentally in last month’s Foodie Penpal box of goodies, I received this can of El Pato hot sauce, along with a note from my penpal saying she uses this to make chilaquiles. Upon request, she sent me a link to an easy chilaquiles recipe that is similar to the one she makes. I’ve tried them twice since then – once with a red salsa and once with salsa verde.

The recipe starts by sauteeing some onion and garlic and making a sauce to the desired level of spicy-ness. The easiest way to do this is to choose a favorite salsa. For the red, I mixed some of the hot El Pato sauce with a mild salsa – that El Pato sauce has quite a kick! For the green chilaquiles, I used a salsa verde with lime (that tartness was a nice addition). Yellow tortilla chips are gradually stirred into the sauce to cover them. Thick tortilla chips will hold their shape best.

Once all the chips are stirred into the sauce and starting to soften, you put the dish in the oven to bake and absorb all the liquid. I added shredded chicken at that point. After baking, I sprinkled it with queso fresco and cilantro. The linked recipe shows another version topped with eggs. This first time, the recipe turned out very salty because I added some salt – forgetting that the tortilla chips are very high in salt to start with.

Here’s how the green chile version turned out (below). I cooked the chicken in the sauce first (adding a bit of extra water to compensate for the extra cooking time) then continued following the recipe, adding no extra salt. They were delicious!  If you’re watching your salt, or want to try making chilaquiles more traditionally, start with corn tortillas and fry up your own chips.

It’s funny, as I started reading about Mexican chilaquiles I saw that they are a typical breakfast food, and it clicked for me why I enjoy them so much. Unknowingly, I have actually been making a scrambled eggs version of chilaquiles for many years. Here’s what I like to do sometimes for a quick breakfast;

Karin’s Chilaquile Scramble
onion and/or sweet pepper, a few thin slices
2 eggs, beaten
1 small corn tortilla
salsa
shredded cheese

Start by sauteeing onion and sweet peppers in a small non-stick pan. Tear the corn tortilla into small pieces and soak briefly with the eggs in a bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite salsa (sometimes I add more hot pepper, chile powder, and/or cumin for a stronger kick). Add the egg mixture to the pan with onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally. I like to cook them until pretty dry so that the tortilla pieces start browning. Add shredded cheese at the end and stir long enough to melt. Top with cilantro, salt to taste, a dollop of sour cream, and enjoy!

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