Chilaquiles

12 Dec

I love this dish! I made it myself for the first time the other night, using the recipe below from the New York Times. I did a few things differently, like using chicken thighs instead of breast, bagged regular tortilla chips instead of toasted or baked, and a shredded Mexican cheese blend instead of queso fresco.

The salsa base turned out really great. I’ll be making this again for sure, and next time I’ll plan ahead more so I can have some ripe avocado with the sour cream I put on top.

Red Chilaquiles With Chicken

Chilaquiles is a sort of top-of-the-stove tortilla casserole. In its simplest form, it consists of a freshly made salsa into which you stir fried tortillas. Sometimes eggs are added, and sometimes chicken as well. The salsa can be red or green; even thick black beans may be used. I favor microwave-toasted tortillas, but if you don’t have the time, use baked tortilla chips. Serve this right after you’ve stirred in the tortilla chips, because if they’re not fried, they will quickly become soggy.

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes

1 jalapeño chile, or 2 serranos, seeded for a milder sauce and chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion, soaked for a few minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 to 1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

Salt to taste

1 large chicken breast, poached and shredded (about 2 cups shredded meat)

8 corn tortillas, toasted and coarsely broken up, or 2 cups baked tortilla chips

For the garnish:

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 small red or white onion, cut into thick rings, soaked for five minutes in cold water, then drained, rinsed and dried on paper towels

1. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, chopped onion and garlic in a blender, and blend until coarsely pureed.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat, and add a drop of the puree. It should sizzle. Add all of the tomato puree, and cook, stirring, for about five to ten minutes, until the sauce darkens, thickens and begins to stick to the pan. Add water or stock if the mixture seems dry, and season to taste with salt. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until the sauce coats the front and back of a spoon. Taste and adjust salt.

3. Stir in the chicken and heat through. Stir in the tortilla chips or pieces, stir together for a half minute, and remove from the heat. Spinkle the cheese, cilantro and sliced onion over the top, and serve.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The poached, shredded chicken breast will keep for three days in the refrigerator. You can make this dish ahead through step 2 and remove from the heat. Reheat gently and proceed with step 3, then serve right away.

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