Chilaquiles have exploded to fame status in my life. I am embarrassed to say that they were a complete unknown before I went to San Diego, when friends of ours told us that a little place called ‘The Mission‘ right near our hotel had the best chilaquiles they had ever had.
I’m the snobbiest of Mexican food snobs- I make my own tortillas, and I know how to pronounce ‘Oaxaca’ like I’ve lived there all my life. There is no place in Knoxville that can produce Mexican food to my standards. Will I eat Kung Pao chicken and Crab Rangoon from a Chinese joint run by a Tennessee guy named Earl? Of course. Chinese is a whole different ball game. It’s not Mexican.
So how did I not know about Chilaquiles? Seriously?
Since I was up at 4 am every day with a little princess who never really understood the concept of Pacific Time, I decided to educate myself lest the Mission staff think me someone who dumps Ro-tel into Velveeta and calls it the highlight of my Super Bowl party. Chilaquiles, it turns out, is a dish of fried leftover corn tortilla chips tossed in either a green (verde) or red (rojo) sauce- served either still crispy or completely soggy based on the region of Mexico- topped with some sort of protein (chicken, eggs), queso fresco, Mexican crema, and maybe something else like sliced onions or refried beans.
And all you need to know now is that it’s in my top ten foods. EVER.
The ones I had at the Mission used a tomato-based sauce that had a hint of fresh ginger, which was not authentic, but utterly fabulous. I immediately decided to make them at home, but I wanted to use a roasted tomatillo (verde) sauce. I have a thing for roasted tomatillo sauce. Tomatillos make the freshest-tasting sauce you can ever imagine, and it’s so incredibly easy (stick in oven, stick in blender, be amazed).
The finished product was nothing short of heaven. The tomatillo sauce reduced and mixed with the crema was simultaneously rich and comforting, yet tangy and fresh-tasting. I’ve never had anything like it! The sauce coated the chips, keeping them just crispy enough to be a perfect foil for the soft scrambled eggs. The cilantro and queso fresco did what they were supposed to do- they just made everything perfect.
It’s most common to eat them at breakfast or brunch, and you could certainly do that, but… they are easy enough that you could totally make them for a weeknight meal, like I did, or make them as the ultimate hangover cure, like the Booze Hound will the morning after my upcoming birthday. (10th anniversary of my 21st birthday, holllaaahhh!)
You know that food is my thing. Great food is my passion. Chilaquiles are one of the best things I have ever made. You would think I was born and bred in Mexico City, were it not for my
pasty white alabaster skin and lack of interest in soccer. Oh, and my refusal to drink tequila out of a bottle with an insect in it. But aside from that? Total native based on chilaquiles skill alone.
(Don’t think this is going to my head. My fajita skills are completely sub-par, and I am incredibly intimidated by the whole tamale-making process. But if Bobby Flay wants to do a chilaquiles throw down, I just think I could hang around. AKA beat him. Bring it, Flay!)
Move over, Wheaties. Chilaquiles are the new breakfast/dinner/late-night meal of champions.
- 2 lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed and sliced in half (I remove the ribs and seeds since I’m feeding a toddler, but keep them in if you like it spicy)
- 3 c low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- ⅔ c Mexican crema, or substitute creme fraiche or cream
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces thick tortilla chips (If I don’t make my own, I love Garden of Eatin’ brand)
- 8 eggs
- ½ chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) crumbled queso fresco
- Arrange the tomatillos and jalapeño under a very hot broiled and cook, turning occasionally, until roasted and blackened in spots, about 15 minutes total. Transfer everything to a blender, add the chicken stock, and blend into a smooth puree.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onion until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute, then pour in the tomatillo puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes to thicken. Turn off heat and stir in crema. Season to taste with salt- I used about 1 tsp.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat for the eggs.
- Stir the tortilla chips into the tomatillo sauce, tossing gently to ensure the absorb some of the sauce but do not become soggy. Divide chip mixture evenly among individual serving bowls and top with half the queso fresco.
- Scramble the 8 eggs in the frying pan (seasoning to taste with salt and pepper). Divide eggs evenly among the tortilla chips, top with remaining queso fresco, and garnish with cilantro.