A standard Mexican breakfast, chilaquiles (chee-lah-KEE-lays) turn yesterday's unused tortillas into a tasty base for an assortment of possible toppings. The cook cuts or tears the tortilla into strips (corn being traditional but flour an acceptable option if you prefer), then fries them in oil until they turn slightly brown and crispy. Once cooled, the chips get doused in a sauce that can range from mild red to spicy green chile to any variation of mole and topped with crema and salty crumbled cheese.
Some cooks bake chilaquiles as a casserole; some simmer the tortillas in sauce until they soften and fall apart; others simply layer the ingredients on your plate, retaining some of the crunch. You can find many variations and accompaniments throughout Mexico, including fried eggs or shredded chicken or spicy chunks of chorizo. Chopped onion, sliced radishes, cilantro, and lime often garnish the dish. This easy version starts with packaged tortilla chips.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 to 3 cups tortilla chips (approximately 30 chips) from a bag*
- 1 1/4 cups green or red salsa
- 1/2 cup crumbled cheese (queso fresco or cotija)
- 2 tablespoons Mexican crema (or substitute regular sour cream thinned with a splash of milk)
- Lightly coat a large frying pan with the vegetable oil; heat it over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers.
- Spread the tortilla chips in the pan.
- Quickly pour the salsa over the chips and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the chips in the sauce, undisturbed, until the chips absorb some of the liquid and soften, for approximately 10 minutes.
- Divide the chilaquiles between two plates; sprinkle half of the cheese on each and drizzle with half of the crema.
*Substitute leftover corn tortillas for the packaged chips by cutting them into strips, frying them in 375 F vegetable oil until crisp, and draining them on paper towels or brown bags as they cool. Proceed as with the store-bought chips.