The first time I had chilaquiles, I was with Christy at a funky wine bar in Tulum on Mexico's Caribbean coast. It was late morning and we were hungry for something to soothe our mezcal-soaked bellies; the menu's description of tortilla chips drenched in red salsa and topped with chicken, cheese and a runny egg sounded right up our alley. Our eyes lit up on the first bite, we gave each other a knowing look and went back for another forkful. Then we both ordered a glass of wine at 11:00 a.m. VACAAAY!
In Eva's cooking class this week, we made her version of chilaquiles. Using her homemade totopos (Mexico’s thicker - ahem, better - version of corn tortilla chips), Eva’s chilaquiles are served in a green salsa with a fierce chile salsa to go alongside, and topped with fire-extinguishing crema, diced onion and crumbly queso fresco. Feel free to embellish on this recipe to suit your tastebuds: add a fried egg, some sliced avocado or a few strips of grilled steak. The recipe below is a blank canvas for your creative kitchen juices. (Eww?)
And a note on the four-alarm tres chiles salsa - a little goes a long way. Enjoy!
Chilaquiles con Salsa Verde
2 lb. thick-cut tortilla chips
1 1/4 lb. whole tomatillos, cleaned and rinsed
1/4 white onion, halved
1 clove garlic
1 bunch cilantro
2 heaping tsp. chicken bouillon (powdered)
2 Tbs. cooking oil (your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
For the toppings: crema/creme fraiche, diced onion, queso fresco
In a large pot of salted water, bring the whole tomatillos to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, until soft. Remove tomatillos from water and set aside, reserving the tomatillo water.
Place the boiled tomatillos in a blender and add half of the onion, garlic clove, entire bunch of cilantro (stems and all!) and chicken bouillon. Blend until smooth.
In a large frying pan, heat the cooking oil and add the other half of the onion, cooking over med-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the blended tomatillo mixture to the frying pan, along with 1/4 cup of the reserved tomatillo water, stirring to combine. Once boiling, add an additional 1/4 cup of reserved tomatillo water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the sauce is boiling, remove from the heat and fold in the tortilla chips. Allow the chips to sit in the sauce, off the heat, about 5 minutes to soften. Serve with toppings of crema/creme fraiche, diced onion and queso fresco.
Salsa de Tres Chiles (muy picante!)
12 tomatillos, cleaned, rinsed and halved
1 clove garlic, whole
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
2 poblano peppers
2 large jalapeño chiles, chopped into large chunks
4 serrano chiles, chopped into large chunks
1/2 c. cooking oil (your choice) , divided
1 heaping Tbs. chicken boullion, powdered
1/2 Tbs. ground black pepper
On a gas grill, gas range or in the broiler, char the poblano peppers until the skin is blistered and blackened on all sides. Place the poblanos in a sealed plastic bag and allow them to steam for about 10-15 minutes (this helps to peel the skin off easier.)
In a frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the cooking oil over med-high heat. Add the onion and whole garlic clove and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped jalapeños and serranos to the pan and cook about a minute. Add the chopped tomatillos and cook a minute longer. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to slowly sauté for 5 minutes. "When you start to cough, you know it's done!"
While the chiles and onion cook, peel the poblanos and cut them into large chunks, discarding the stems, ribs and most of the seeds (don't be too concerned with getting all the seeds - leaving some of them is traditional.)
Remove the chile/onion mixture from the heat. In a blender, add the chile/onion mixture, poblanos, cilantro (stems and all!), chicken bouillon, ground pepper, the remainder of the oil and 1/2 cup of water. Blend until mostly smooth.
Serve the sauce alongside the chilaquiles (or anything else) for a serious kick!