A sauce-covered dish of enchiladas is like Kryptonite to me. I’ve also been known to indulge – and indulge and indulge – in a bowl of chips and salsa. Both are very good in their own way.
Chilaquiles fall somewhere in the middle: warm and soft like enchiladas, but lighter, simpler and more snackable, like, well, chips and salsa. These Green Chilaquiles are what you need when you want something bright, zesty, saucy and a little cheesy.
Margarita Carrillo Arronte’s original recipe called for twice as much sauce to create a more casserole-type experience. We decided to adapt it for a slightly quicker, crispier version finished in the skillet you cook the sauce in. If you’d prefer to bake the chilaquiles, check out the variation below.
Chilaquiles are, of course, an ideal way to use up leftover tortillas. This rendition with oven-baked tortilla chips will make you want to buy them specifically for the purpose. The chips are not hard to make, and they’ll hold up better, with more flavor and texture, than a bag of typical store-bought chips.
Our starter toppings consist of cheese, onion, sour cream and cilantro. You can take it to the next level for any time of day, from breakfast to snack to dinner, by adding your choice of protein, such as eggs, beans, and shredded chicken, beef or pork. No matter what you decide, rest assured that pretty much anything will go with the stellar salsa verde.
Recipe notes: To make chilaquiles with red sauce, check out this Salsa Roja recipe I published last year from Pati Jinich. Make the salsa as directed, then transfer about half to a large skillet and proceed with adding the chips, reheating the sauce first if necessary.
Bake the tortilla chips at least a day in advance, and store in an airtight container. The sauce can be made and refrigerated three days in advance. Reheat in the skillet before adding the tortilla chips.
15 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and patted dry (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 poblano chile pepper
1 to 2 serrano peppers
1/2 white or yellow onion, halved
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola, plus more for brushing the tortillas
12 six-inch corn tortillas (about 8 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sour cream
3 1/2 ounces grated queso fresco or crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the broiler with a rack placed about 4 inches from the heating element. Arrange the tomatillos, poblano and serrano on a large rimmed baking sheet. Broil for about 10 minutes, turning the vegetables over halfway through, until they are blistered and black in spots. Let the vegetables cool, and pull the stems off the peppers. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and move the rack to the middle.
Transfer the charred vegetables to a blender or food processor, making sure you tip in any juices from the baking sheet, and add the white or yellow onion, garlic and cilantro. Process until smooth, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or large measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.
Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Brush the top of each tortilla with a little oil, dividing them into two stacks and then cutting through each stack so the tortillas have been sliced into sixths. Separate and scatter the pieces on the baking sheet, keeping them in one layer as much as possible, though a little overlap is fine. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring two to three times, until the tortillas are crisp and a pale golden brown.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat the 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Pour in the sauce, allow it to briefly bubble vigorously and then reduce the heat to medium-low, or just low enough to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste and add more, if desired.
Turn the heat off and stir in the tortilla chips, transferring to a serving platter, if desired. Top with the red onion, sour cream, queso fresco and cilantro and serve right away. If you prefer softer chips, cover the skillet for a few minutes before topping and serving.
• Variation: To make baked chilaquiles, double the ingredients for the sauce (except the poblano) and the toppings. Cook the sauce in a larger saucepan or pot, and once it’s done, transfer it to an ovenproof dish. Stir in the tortilla chips, top with the onion, sour cream and queso fresco and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Serve with extra sour cream, cilantro and cheese.
NUTRITION – Calories: 350; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 25 mg; Sodium: 310 mg; Carbohydrates: 41 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugars: 10 g; Protein: 11 g.
Adapted from “Mexico: The Cookbook” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (Phaidon Press, 2014).