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More Mexican Eats: Chilaquiles

chilaquiles

The Mexican food fairy visited last weekend and left delectable chilaquiles in our refrigerator. This act of kindness occurred even after we had subjected her to days of hard labor, which she effortlessly completed with sweeps of her magic wand (I want one of those).

Chilaquiles are yet another Mexican dish to love and cherish. They taste good any time of day. They are easy to serve to large groups. Also, I hear (from a very reliable source) that they are good for curing hangovers.

From what I understand, chilaquiles is like what meatloaf is to Midwesterners: a staple of the family repertoire, with no two recipes alike. Thank God it tastes nothing like meatloaf.

According to the encyclopedic cookbook, El Gran Libro de la Cocina Mexicana by Susanna Palazuelos, a version of chilaquiles was made in prehispanic times. The word “chilaquiles” derives from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs: “chilli” (chile) and quilitil (edible herb). Guess what’s in the recipe?

The Mexican food fairy makes chilaquiles with green sauce (salsa verde), though red sauce could be substituted. She says you can make the chicken and salsa days ahead of time – or even freeze them (cooked) weeks ahead of time so they are ready when you want to make this dish.

Serve with a side of black beans and a fried egg on top, if you wish.

Chilaquiles
- serves 8 -

For the salsa verde
10 tomatillos, husked
¼ of a white onion
small handful of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1-2 serrano chiles (taste to see how hot they are to see how many you want)*
Chicken bullion cube (like the soft Knorr cubes that make 2 cups broth)

For the chicken
2 large chicken breasts
1 large clove garlic
¼ of a white onion
small handful of fresh cilantro
Salt
Water

For assembly
About 8 oz. (half to three-quarters of a bag) thick, yellow corn tortilla chips (Mexican “restaurant style,” NOT Tostitos)
½ white onion, sliced and rinsed
1 cup Mexican crema (like Cacique brand); if you can’t get crema, thin some sour cream with a little milk to a slightly creamy liquid consistency
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

To make the chicken: In a small stock pot, put raw chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro and just cover with cold water. Season with salt. Heat on medium-high until chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from water to cool; reserve cooking liquid. When chicken is cooler, use two forks to shred it.

To make the salsa verde: In a dry sauté pan, roast the tomatillos, chili, onion and garlic until golden.  Cut tomatillos in half and roughly chop the onion, garlic and cilantro. Put all in a blender with the bullion cube and some of the cooking liquid from the chicken. Blend until you get a smooth sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.

To assemble the chilaquiles: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a 9×12” glass Pyrex, spread a thin layer of salsa verde. Add the tortilla chips. Top with shredded chicken then the rest of the salsa verde, crema, cheese and sliced onion. Bake about 15 minutes, or until all is heated through. Broil to just brown the top, 3-5 minutes.

chilaquiles_process

Serve warm as-is, or top each portion with a fried egg, with a side of black beans.

* You can keep whole serrano chiles wrapped in plastic in the freezer for weeks.

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2 Comments

  1. Sooo jealous!!! I wish the Mexican food fairy had visited when I was there! The twins have got to be ecstatic.

  2. Ilan says:

    Hmm the food fairy- lucky! Looks delish and I’m also very impressed by the foodie history and narrative.

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