Monday, January 10, 2011


Chilaquiles with Chicken
Chilaquiles. I grew up in Southern California eating some of the very best Mexican food there is, but in all my 30-something years I had not heard of chilaquiles. It wasn't until I moved to Iowa and started teaching English as a Second Language that I first heard of this dish. Diana Sanchez told me that it was her favorite food. She described it to me and said her mom made it for breakfast. Breakfast? It sounded like a lunch or dinner thing, which intrigued me even further, as I eat leftover dinner for breakfast more often than most people, I'm sure.
The next time I was at El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant, I thought I'd try the chicken chilaquiles I saw on the menu, since, to be honest, I really don't much like Iowa's Mexican food. The chilaquiles were interesting, but not quite yummy. I could tell it was the cook's choice of ingredients, and kept the idea of trying them again (either at home or a restaurant) in the back of my mind.
Tonight was the night I tried making them, and I have to say, I think they turned out pretty darned tasty. They're something like enchiladas, but also like lasagna. The tortillas are a little soggy, and a little crisp, coated in the slightly spicy, very salty sauce. The meaty chicken and melted cheese round out the textures and flavors.  I can see why so many websites called it "comfort food." I'm feeling really comfortable and cozy right now.
Interestingly, several websites said chilaquiles are what to eat to cure a hangover, but I think those recipes usually include eggs. If that sounds more up your alley, you'll have to google a different recipe.
If you've ever eaten chilaquiles, and you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I'm curious.


12 corn tortillas, cut into fourths or sixths
1/3 cup vegetable oil for frying
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled & minced
¼ cup diced onion
1 small (20 oz.) enchilada sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube
1-2 cups shredded chicken (depending on how meaty you want your chilaquiles)
8 oz. shredded cheese (I prefer jack or a jack/cheddar blend.  If I had the time and energy, I might have gone to the store for queso fresco.)

In a large, high-rimmed frying pan, heat oil and fry tortillas in batches until crisp, but not totally brown.  Drain and lightly salt on paper towels and set aside.
Use the same frying pan to prepare the sauce, but use paper towels to soak up most of the excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon of hot oil in the pan.  (Use tongs to introduce the paper towel to the hot oil, soak up the oil, and throw away the paper towel.)
Put diced onions in pan and sauté until clear.  Add minced garlic and sauté another minute. 
Add enchilada sauce, tomatoes, and bouillon.  Stir and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Turn heat to low.
Carefully fold fried tortillas into sauce. 
You can either top the saucy tortillas with the chicken, or you can stir the chicken in. 
Spread the top with the shredded cheese.  Leave burner on low, and cover the pan with a lid for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Makes about 4 servings.

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