Chilaquiles

April 04, 2010

Chilaquiles, as best I can tell, are the Mexican version of the American casserole.  Just as there is no single casserole recipe in the states, there really isn't a single casserole recipe in Latin America.  From country to country, family to family, there are likely millions of variations.  And just as the family casserole (or bake) takes on traditions of the region here, the same is true of chiliaquiles in Mexico.  The foundation for the recipe that I use is tomato sauce, corn tortillas, pork and cheese....which is likely to appeal to the majority of Americans.  I've also seen interpretations based on goat cheese and tomatillo, queso fresco and pulled chicken and even bagged corn chips and refried beans.  I personally like to add scrambled eggs to the dish at the very end and turn it into a breakfast dish.  Because of the combination of egg, spicy and (greasy) meats, it can be a fabulous hangover dish (when made a day ahead).  The quantities and amounts you see are merely guideposts.  Adjust the ratios as you see fit, substitute as needed and tailor it to what you like.

This particular version was inspired by my roommate, Damien, from college.  He used to pull it together in an off-campus house we all shared and it was always a huge hit.

  • 1 dozen corn tortillas.  In Chicago, El Milagro is a local tortilleria that delivers fresh packs of tortilla each day to fruitstands and groceries.  These are fantastic, but just a little too fresh.  You'll want them to be a little dried out and then toast them or fry them.  They'll need to be nice and crispy before using or they turn to mush.  Cut them into pieces and set aside.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Chopped garlic ( I like a lot).  Fresh, and only fresh.  Anything from a jar doesn't count and long ago lost its true flavor
  • 1 lb of meat - sausage, bacon, or a blend
  • 16 oz of shredded cheese: cheddar, monterey jack, a blend, etc. Use a tasty melting cheese
  • 28oz can of enchilada sauce
  • Spices: cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, etc. are all good choices

Depending on how "flavorful" you want this, cook the meat ahead of time and drain it, or cook the onion/garlic first and then add the meat.

After the meat, onion and garlic are ready, add the spices, cheese and tortilla and mix well. Finally start adding the enchilada sauce until it's as dry or soupy as you prefer.
Lime wedges and chopped cilantro are great for finishing the dish.

That's it!  As you can probably tell, there are no rules and the outcome is up to you....this is merely a framework to get you started.  Buen provecho!



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