Chipotle Chilaquiles

by Matt on January 31, 2011

This is the breakfast I’d eat every day if I could. Oh chilaquiles, how much do I love you?

Apparently quite a bit, as I’ve been on the Chilaquiles Train ever since getting back from Mexico earlier this month. While I’ve always enjoyed them, I’ve renewed my love by eating them a few times a week already and I suppose I’m making up for lost time.

While I won’t go into the variety of regional differences, chilaquiles are basically stale corn tortillas cooked in a sauce and topped with ingredients as a way to use up any leftovers or stale chips. It’s a concept I love even if I can’t quite understand the thought of having left over chips, let alone stale. Aren’t they always eaten until they’re gone? Maybe that’s just me.

Chilaquiles are miraculously adaptable; you can use almost anything you have on hand. I love recipes that are difficult to mess up and these fit the bill. They’ll forgive you if you add too much sauce, they’ll still taste great if you use too much cheese. I’m guilty on both accounts.

I grew up eating chilaquiles’ close relative, the Tex Mex dish called Migas which is comprised of corn chips, eggs, sometimes cheese, sometimes salsa, but always generous scoops of salsa.  I can seriously throw down some migas every day of the week, but for a change I’ve been digging chilaquiles’ use of various sauces to create that moist crunch that lives in that secret place between soggy and crunchy. To me it’s a very happy place.

This chilaquiles recipes is adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless from Food & Wine. It’s a favorite of mine for its use of smoky chipotle flavors and the fact that it’s simply a base from which to personalize. You can add shredded chicken or keep it vegetarian, use almost any cheese imaginable, top it with cilantro or not, and even make your own chile sauce as the base. His recipe uses canned tomatoes which we always have on hand. Like I said, you just can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Chipotle Chilaquiles adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless

1 can of whole tomatoes (28 oz), drained with ½ cup of the liquid reserved
2 whole chipotles in adobo, from a can found in Latin markets
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
8 ounces tortilla chips (please I implore you to make your own if you have time, it’s easy!)
¼ cup freshly grated cheese (it can be Parmesan or any Mexican crumbly cheese)
1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (omit it if you are Cilantro Hater, you know who y’all are and don’t need to tell me about it, jeeeeeeez)
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re making your own tortilla chips, simply fry pieces of corn tortillas in hot oil until golden brown and then drain on paper towel. Don’t crowd them and don’t overcook them. See? I told you it was easy.

In a blender, add the canned tomatoes, half of the liquid and the two chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth.

In a large deep skillet (you’ll need depth as you’ll be adding all the ingredients here), heat the oil and two-thirds of the large onion (not the green!) and cook over high heat until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and chipotle puree and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the chicken stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the chile sauce, making sure they’re well coated. You want every inch of the chips to be covered in sauce. Top the chips with the remaining onion, some green onions, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream or crema, and cilantro. Enjoy immediately.