This is a recipe made up by a Mexican who has eaten this dish hundreds if not thousands of times throughout his lifetime. Growing up with a single mother, from a remote part of Jalisco, Mexico, who made this dish as a quick meal, one can appreciate the simplicity of this dish. A lot of what goes into the making of this dish is up to your own taste: how much and what kind of cheese for example, or what type of chili sauce is used (i.e. green or red and the intensity of its heat level). The three main components of this dish include: deep fried tortilla strips, some sort of chili sauce and a good serving of cheese that is crumbled over the finished dish towards the end. In addition, one can add any number of extra ingredients to his or her own delight. The following recipe is quite common in most of Mexico as a breakfast item, due to the addition of eggs, but is also eaten throughout the day including during dinner time. Remember, keep it simple and tasty. You definitely don't need to bake this dish, it never is in Mexico (except for a variant of this dish called Pastel Azteca which is considerably more elaborate). I've included an additional recipe for a salsa de chile de arbol that will be used as the primary sauce. It's a little spicy and may take some time to prepare but is well worth the extra effort. The following recipe is intended as a single serving, adjust the ingredients exponentially to make larger quantities.
- Vegetable Oil (enough to cover the tortillas to deep fry them)
- 2 Corn Tortillas cut into strips and then into squares (preferably day old)
- 1 large Egg
- 1/4 of an Onion diced (white onion is mainly used in Mexican cooking)
- Salsa de Chile de Arbol
- 1 cup of Tomatillos, husks taken off and roasted (these are found extensively in most Mexican groceries and are somewhat common in larger urban supermarkets)
- 4 to 6 dried Chiles de Arbol roasted (these are quite hot and you should adjust to your liking)
- 1 roasted Garlic
- 1/2 cup of Water
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- crumbled or shredded Cheese (you can use anything that melts well, i like to use monterey jack or manchego, however you can utilize your favorite cheese for this recipe)
- Begin by making the Salsa de Chile de Arbol: roast the tomatillos by wrapping them in heavy duty aluminum foil and placing them on a comal over your stovetop (this does not need to be done in the oven, it never is in Mexico). After roasting the tomatillos for approximately 15 to 20 minutes you can pull them off the fire and roast the dried chilies and garlic directly on the comal (caution, the dried chilies will roast in less than a minute while the garlic will take longer). Combine the roasted tomatillos, chilies and garlic along with the water, salt and pepper in a blender. Liquify the mixture thoroughly for a few minutes to ensure that the sauce is smooth and consistent with no large pieces left floating around. You will probably end up with more salsa than you need for this recipe. Use it as a condiment for any other of your favorite Mexican dishes!
- Next, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan until it is hot enough so that when you drop the pieces of tortillas into it they immediately begin to fry at a rapid pace.
- Allow the tortillas to fry until they become a chestnut brown, just not too dark or burnt. At this point, drain most of the oil out of the pan leaving only enough to fry the rest of the ingredients.
- Crack the egg into the fried tortillas and scramble it, folding the fried tortilla strips into the egg. At this point season this mixture with salt and pepper if desired. Take this mixture out of the pan and let it rest on a plate while you continue with the rest of the dish.
- Add some of the oil that was taken out of the pan earlier back into it and heat it up again. To this add the diced onion and allow it to soften for a few minutes. Add the Salsa de Chile de Arbol to the oil and onions and sauté it for a minute or two. Add a little bit of water to dilute it if it becomes too thick.
- Finally, return the fried tortilla and egg mixture to the onion and chili sauce in the pan and allow it cook only for about a minute, enough time to allow the tortillas to soak up some of the sauce. Before plating it, add the cheese and enjoy!
In Mexico, very rarely is this dish made with tortilla chips but rather day-old tortillas that have stiffened. If you don't have day-old tortillas you can leave out fresh tortillas until they are stiff to get the right texture. The recipe for the chili sauce used in this recipe is of course a red sauce. If you prefer a green sauce, simply substitute the chiles de arbol for fresh jalapeño chilies that you can also roast in the same way. After you have roasted the chilies on the comal and thoroughly burnt the skins, place the chilies in a plastic bag with a small amount of water so as to allow them to steam. After about 5 minutes, remove the jalapeños from the bag and simply rub the skin off of them. Continue to make the sauce as indicated above.
Also this dish can be made with strips of chicken in addition to or as a replacement for the egg. In Mexico chilaquiles are often served throughout the day and as such the addition of chicken strips will complement it as a dinner item. Using all the same ingredients just add some warmed and shredded chicken meat during the last step before you add the cheese. Oftentimes, my mother would add a little bit of Mexican cream (somewhat like sour cream but more akin to creme fraiche) over the top of the chilaquiles right before we enjoyed them on our serving plate as a way to tone down the spicy heat of the dish.