A Classic Mexican Recipe
Chilaquiles, a popular breakfast dish found on Sunday brunch tables in almost every hotel restaurant in Mexico, is one of my favorite ways to eat Salsa Verde. I love the tang of the green salsa set against the sweet corn tortillas and the rich egg, cheese and cream. One of my cookbooks translates the name as Tortilla Hash, a name I don’t like at all. Hash is too common a word, but when I take a good look at the photo above, I guess it is hash-like.
Diana Kennedy, in her wonderful book, From My Mexican Kitchen, Techniques and Ingredients, offers the information that chilaquiles is a Nahautl word meaning chile and wild greens. She goes on to say that she has never known this dish to be made with wild greens. But another chilaquiles recipe in A Cook’s Tour of Mexico by Nancy Zaslavsky (St. Martin’s Press) uses epazote, an herb cooked with beans (and found in the wild), which I happen to have on hand for my next pot of black beans. So this version is true to the Nahautl translation.
I know you were cooking with me yesterday, so you have plenty of salsa verde in your fridge, right? If not, see the recipe from the previous post. (Chilaquiles are also made with Salsa Roja, a tomato based chile sauce.)
1-2 servings, depending on your appetite
- 6 day-old corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1/2 cup salsa verde
- 2-6 tablespoons of water, if needed
- 2 leaves fresh epazote, chopped (optional)
- salt to taste
- 2-4 eggs, depending on number of servings and size of appetites
- 2 tablespoons queso fresco, queso adobero, or cheese of your choice, crumbled or grated
- 2 tablespoons Mexican crema, sour cream or crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon mild onion, chopped
- cilantro for garnish
- Stack tortillas and cut into twelfths, like pie wedges.
- Heat oil in a heavy skillet and fry tortilla pieces until small brown spots start to appear. Add more oil if needed. Don’t let tortilla pieces get too crisp. Some softness should still remain. Drain on a paper towel.
- Add salsa verde to the hot skillet. Add water if necessary until you have a thin consistency.
- When salsa is bubbling, add tortilla pieces and chopped epazote and stir until combined. Cook about 2-3 minutes over medium heat, adding more water if the tortillas soak up too much moisture. Salt to taste.
- While the chilaquiles are cooking, cook eggs, either sunny-side-up or over-easy. For runny yolks, break the eggs into a hot pan in which you have already heated butter or oil. The pan should be hot enough so that the eggs start to sizzle when they go in the pan. Immediately cover the pan and turn off the heat. The residual heat will produce perfectly cooked eggs with runny yolks in about 2 minutes, while the tortilla pieces finish cooking in the salsa.
A very hungry person could eat all of this. Two moderate appetites will want to share it. So divide the tortillas among two plates, or one. Gently set the eggs on top, and garnish with crema, chopped onion, crumbled cheese and chopped cilantro.
- For this dish, day-old tortillas are best. If you are buying packaged tortillas in a grocery store, consider them already at least a day old. I hope someday you can find tortillas hot off the press. The difference between freshly made tortillas and packaged ones is like the difference between fresh tuna and canned.
- In restaurants, chilaquiles may be offered with shredded, cooked chicken breast instead of eggs.
- Unless you live in a community with a Mexican grocery store, epazote will be hard to find. There is really no substitute, but I assure you that chilaquiles are excellent without it. Fresh epazote smells and tastes like a weed, but an interesting weed. I can’t even compare it to any other herb. When used judiciously in a cooked dish, it imparts a flavor like nothing else can. (Epazote is often added to black beans, where it contributes a unique Mexican flavor.)