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Modern Chilaquiles


And the chilaquiles discussion continues. Food snobs may be horrified but the hungry will be satisfied. My travelling buddy Christopher Ann offers this quick variation on the classic dish with no apolgies and no regrets. Still, if the Fritos thing is too much, there's always Rancho Gordo brand Thick-Cut Handmade Tortilla Chips if you live in the Bay Area. - Steve


I got my recipe for chilaquiles from a Mexican friend, a housewife, in Querétaro. My daughter went for a visit a while back and, although I had asked for the recipe many times, I always got the typical "home cooking recipe" answer: "Oh, just a little of this and a little of that. I can no say exactamente, it is the recipe de mi mamá y mi abuelita (little grandmother)."

I told my daughter she was to go into Lita's kitchen and not come back out until she knew how to make them.

I am including here an excerpt from an email my daughter sent to me during her stay in Querétaro.

"Mom, I am staying at Jaime's mother's house that is close to downtown Querétaro. She is wonderful....and calls me 'mija.' I love that. I want to be a Mexican grandmother. They hug on you and kiss your cheeks, and make such good food and call everyone Mi Amor, or Mi Vida or Mija. It is so cute!"

So, anyway, mi amiga Lita, has four children. The family eats chilaquiles for breakfast at least three or four mornings a week, so Lita has to be able to make it fast. And she does. This is how she does it:


Salsa verde (tomatilla sauce); torn stale and fried tortilla chips (Lita uses Fritos and told me not to laugh before I tried it and I didn't and I did and she's right, they work just fine); queso manchego (or asadero, or ranchero, or fresco, or any other Mexican white cheese that you like); and sour cream.

In bottom of microwaveable dish, spread a little tomatilla sauce, then layer of Fritos, then more sauce, then sour cream, then "bastante queso." Repeat, until dish is full or ingredients are all used up, finishing with cheese. Microwave one minute, or till chilaquilesare heated through and cheese is melted. You'll probably have to experiment a time or two in order to get all of the proportions just right.

1 tsp or so cooking oil (just enough to cover botton of saucepan)
6 or so whole tomatillos, paper skins removed
jalepeños, or other chile peppers, to desired "pica"
water to cover
Put tomatillos and chiles in saucepan and water, just to barely cover. Bring to boil and cook just till tomatillos are soft (not too long, don't want them "mushy"). Put tomatillos and peppers (do not discard cooking water) into blender or food processor along with:
2 small cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped onion
"handful" cilantro
2 tsp "caldo de pollo" (which I interpret to mean powdered chicken boullion, but I don't know for sure...should have asked, but never did...that's what I add and it comes out fine)

Blend in food processor very well. Add cooking water to reach desired "sauce" consistancy...you want it fairly liquid, but flavorful and not "watered-down" tasting, so use your own judgment.

Note: if you want a smokey flavor to your tomatillo sauce, you can roast all the veggies instead of boiling them.

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