Chilaquiles are a delicious Mexican breakfast dish made from coating fried tortillas in salsa and topping with an assortment of garnishes. The salsa begins to soften the crunchy tortillas, but they shouldn’t become completely soggy. Chilaquiles comes from the Aztec Náhuatl word chil-a-quilitl and means “greens in chile broth”. It is a perfect way to use up leftover tortillas (especially ones that are getting stale) and salsa. To make Chilaquiles Rojos, like I did, use red salsa. Chilaquiles Verdes is made using salsa verde. I tossed in some shredded chicken, but have also seen chorizo or fried eggs used instead. Popular toppings include Mexican cream, Queso Fresco, cilantro, onion, and avocado. It is often served with refried beans. In some areas of central Mexico, the salsa is added to the prepared ingredients last so the tortillas still remain crisp.
Epazote is an annual Central American herb. It has a strong tangy flavor used in cooking and teas. I was unable to find any, so I omitted. It can be grown in warmer climates, but has the tendency to become an invasive weed.
More information on Epazote.
Mexican Cream (Crema) is a dairy product similar to Crème fraîche, though a little less thick and tangy. I was able to find it in Walmart, but you can also substitute by whisking together equal parts sour cream to heavy cream with a pinch of salt if unable to locate. I especially loved topping the Chilaquiles with Crema to help cut a little of the spice.
Queso Fresco (“fresh cheese” in Spanish) is a Mexican cheese made from cow milk or cow and goat milk. It is white and soft with a crumbly texture. It becomes creamy when heated, but does not melt. Queso Fresco does not keep long and is best soon after it is made. I have been able to find it at grocery stores in my area.
Adapted from Mexico in my Kitchen
12 corn tortillas
1/3 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 cups salsa (red or salsa verde)
1 sprig Epazote (optional)
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts or 4 fried/scrambled eggs
1/2 cup Mexican cream
1/2 cup Queso Fresco
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 avocados, chopped
2 thin slices yellow onion, rings separated
Cut each tortilla into quarters or 6 slices, as if cutting a pie. In a large skillet, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Once thoroughly heated, add 1/3rd to 1/2 of the sliced tortillas. Cook until lightly golden and flip to fry other side. Remove to a towel lined plate and repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil as needed.
Clean out the skillet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Pour in the salsa and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to heat through and thicken. If using, stir in the epazote and salt. Gently fold in the fried tortillas, being careful to keep them from breaking. If using, add the chicken and fold to coat. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Top with desired garnishes: fried eggs, Mexican cream, queso fresco, cilantro, onions, or avocado and serve immediately.