January 24, 2010


My wife gives me crap every time we go to our favorite taqueria, La Venadita, because I always order the same thing: chilaquiles. La Venadita is a very authentic, traditional taqueria and everything they do is great. The food is exactly like you'd find at any of the countless carts, stalls, and mercados that litter Mexico City, and I've had almost everything on their menu, but chilaquiles is the only thing I want anymore. They're that good.

Chilaquiles is a very simple, very traditional Mexican dish that consists of corn tortillas, stale ones preferably, that are fried until crispy then simmered in a spicy tomato sauce until soft. Eat as is, or add scrambled or fried eggs, shredded chicken or chorizo, and top with crema, crumbled queso fresco or cotija, diced onions, and cilantro. While considered peasant food in many parts of Mexico,
chilaquiles, is a great way to use left overs, and when done correctly will blow your mind.

Chilaquiles can be a complicated dish, if you want it to be, or you can knock out a decent version in a few minutes if you've got a Mexican tienda in your 'hood. A few cans of El Pato's Salsa de Chile Fresco and a bag of good tortilla chips or tostadas are all you need for a basic chilaquiles, or you can make your own spicy tomato sauce and totopos (chips) from scratch for a more customized implementation.

Below is the version I made for the 35th Ave S Saturday brunch. Serves 6 as a main course or 8-10 as a side.

1 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes, drained
1 27 oz can of El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco
1 can chipotles in adobo
1 1/2 tablespoons olive or veg oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
12 oz good quality tortilla chips or tostadas. For best results cut stale corn tortillas in to triangular pieces, and fry until crispy in 375 degree veg oil or lard. Drain on paper towels and toss with salt.


shredded chicken (left over roasted, store-bought rotisserie, or poached)
diced onion
queso fresco or cotija
Mexican creama or sour cream
chopped cilantro leaves
salsa picante (
Valentina, El Yucateco, Cholula, etc)

Put tomatoes, salsa de chile fresco, and 2-4 chipotles, plus 1 tbs adobo (to taste, basically) in blender, and puree until smooth.

Heat the oil in a 5 or 6 quart dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then pour in the tomato mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

Continue to simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bring sauce back to a simmer, and cook for another two minutes. Add salt to taste, but be careful since most commercial tortilla chips are heavily salted.

Remove from heat and gently fold in chips, totopos, broken up tostadas, or whatever you're using. Cover and let the chilaquiles rest for a few minutes before serving. Top with a drizzle of crema, a couple of sunny side up eggs, shredded chicken or cooked chorizo, and diced onions, cilantro, and salsa picante.

Spicy tomato sauce

Easy poached chicken:

1 whole chicken
12 whole peppercorns
20 whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup salt
2 bay leaves

Wash chicken and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water by a couple of inches, add salt and spices, and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 45 minutes, or or until chicken is done. Cool thoroughly and shred meat with hands. Strain left over broth and refrigerate to separate fat. Use within a couple of days for soup or whatever.


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