Skillet chilaquiles, cafe style

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
½ cup Light oil; like wesson
8 Stale tortillas; cut into eighths
½ cup Chopped onion
4 Anaheim chiles; charred, peeled, seeded
1 cup Green tomatillo sauce; homemade or storebought
1 cup Chicken broth
1 Sprig epazote; optional
2 Sprigs cilantro
1 Jalapeno chiles; fresh or canned, cut into rings (up to 2)
½ cup Monterey jack cheese; grated
3 tablespoons Parmesan or romano; finely grated
Pickled onions or avocado slices for garnish

Near the Alameda Park in Mexico City, is the charming Hotel De Cortes, originally a two- century old monastery. When we breakfasted in the courtyard, sipping our strong cafe con leche, we usually lingered a couple of hours over a second and third cup and conversations I can never recall.

The hotel's cook made the best chilaquiles I have ever tasted. Each order was simmered on top of the stove and delivered to the table in a piping hot skillet with a hand-embroidered cloth wrapped around the handle so you wouldn't burn yourself as you plunged into the treat. This method of cooking chilaquiles is the one used across the Republic in cafes and res- taurants. I have discovered recently that I like the simmering bottom heat of the skillet better than the oven method which is used by home cooks.

1. It is important that you use corn tortillas that are at least a couple of days old. Stale tortillas will absorb much less oil, making chilaquiles a perfect way to use leftovers. I usually cut the tortillas into wedges and let them air dry a couple of hours before frying. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet (I use cast-iron) until almost smoking. Fry the tortilla wedges until a deep golden color. Drain on paper towels and blot well. If you do not fry them until they are crisp, the chilaquiles will be tough. I have even tried baking the wedges instead of frying them but the results are not as good.

2. Using a deep skillet that you can bring to the table, saute the onion in two tablespoons of the oil. When the onion is soft, add the green sauce, the broth, the herbs, and the tortilla wedges. Push the wedges down into the sim- mering liquid. Sprinkle the minced green chiles on top.

3. Simmer for about 10 minutes so the liquid will be absorbed by the tortillas and will thicken. Do not cook away all of the liquid. Halfway through the simmering sprinkle on the cheeses. When the cheese is melted and a few tablespoons of broth remain in the bottom of the skillet, you are ready to take the pan off the heat. Garnish with slices of jalapeflo chile, some cilantro, some pickled onion, or avocado slices. This dish serves four for breakfast and six as a side dish. It is at its best when eaten immediately and does not stand in a warming oven which is why the cafes cook your order and then bring it sizzling to your table.

Recipe by: Red and Green Chile Cookbook Posted to MC-Recipe Digest V1 #910 by Walt Gray <waltgray@...> on Nov 16, 1997

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