We love to visit Baja and over the years, we have really enjoyed chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish of fried corn tortilla pieces, simmered in a zesty homemade sauce and topped with cheese. It’s delicious and makes a wonderful hearty breakfast, but it’s also great for dinner. We like to add over easy eggs or shredded chicken and we also vary our chilaquiles between red and green, where red = enchilada sauce and green= tomatillo salsa.
The origin of the word chilaquiles comes from the ancient Aztec Nahuatl language “chilaquilitl” meaning chili and greens. Originally chilaquiles was a dish created for the purpose of using leftovers, but it’s become a favorite breakfast dish for locals and foreigners alike, much like shakshouka is in the Middle East. There is also a similar and popular Spanish and Portuguese dish called “migas”, but this one is normally strips of corn tortilla or tostadas mixed in with eggs, cheese, onions and peppers and all scrambled together. Also super yummy.
Unless you are really good at making your own tortillas, store-bought corn tortillas (or a corn-flour hybrid) are prefect for this recipe. I have recently begun making my own homemade tortillas, and I have the flour version down pat. I’m still struggling a bit with corn tortillas. They end up just a bit thicker than I’d like. When I have those dialed in, I’ll share the tortilla recipes, because once you try homemade tortillas, there is nothing quite like them and they are really fairly easy to make!
Chilaquiles with Green Tomatillo Salsa
Tomatillo Salsa: (Makes about 3 cups)
- 16 tomatillos, husks removed
- 2 serrano chilis, cut in half lengthwise with stems, seeds and veins removed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chili-lime seasoning
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
- 8 corn tortillas, cut into ¾-inch strips or into wedges like chips
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cups shredded chicken, or 8 eggs per person
- 2 cups Tomatillo Salsa (recipe above)
- 1 cup grated mixed Mexican cheese
- 1/2 cup Cotija cheese or feta cheese
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
- 4 sprigs of cilantro leaves for garnish
- Extra salsa for garnish
- For this recipe, I combined both raw and roasted veggies. I think it gives you a great balance of the roasted and fresh flavors, which are both so good in peppers and tomatillos. (But, if you are short on time, you can make your tomatillo salsa with simply raw, fresh veggies, or even buy your favorite store-bought tomatillo salsa.)
- If you want the roasted-raw hybrid tomatillo salsa, preheat the broiler to high and take 8 of the tomatillos, 1 serrano chili, 1 jalapeño pepper and half of the chopped onion and place on a baking sheet. Place approximately 4-5 inches under the broiler and broil for about 4 minutes per side, or until dark blisters start to form on the skins. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, rinse the remaining chopped onion in cold water for a couple of minutes and then squeeze the water out. This softens the potency of the raw onion.
- Coarsely chop the remaining raw tomatillos, chilis and peppers and place them in the food processor along with the rinsed, chopped onion, garlic and cilantro leaves. Process until desired chunkiness.
- Add the cooled roasted veggies and continue to process. Stir in lime juice, olive oil and salt. Can be made several days ahead of time. Store in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place chicken breast in a small casserole dish.
- Rub all over with olive oil and season with chili lime seasoning (Trader Joe’s or Tajin both work well for this).
- Drizzle a little of your favorite hot sauce over the top.
- Bake in 350-degree oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until done.
- Cool and shred with two forks. Can be made a day or two ahead. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet such as a cast iron, over medium-high heat.
- Add tortilla strips and chopped red onion and cook until onions are beginning to caramelize and tortillas are becoming a bit crunchy and slightly browned on the edges.
- Pour 2 cups of the Tomatillo Salsa (or the Red Enchilada Sauce) evenly over the top of the chips, followed by the shredded chicken.
- Turn heat down and cover to cook just until chicken and sauce are hot. (If using eggs instead of chicken, simply cook the eggs in a separate skillet and slide them right on top of the tomatillo salsa.)
- Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the top and place the lid back on the pan just until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle Cotija or feta cheese over the top and garnish with cilantro sprigs and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.
- Serve immediately and pass the extra salsa on the side.
Red Chilaquiles with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Red Enchilada Sauce-makes about 2 cups
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder (this chili powder is mild, yet flavorful. If you use regular chili powder you have to be very careful of the varying heat levels, which is why we like this one.)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon TJ’s Chili Lime Spice (or lemon pepper)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups broth (chicken or veggie, or water)
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 corn or corn-flour hybrid tortillas, cut into eight triangles each (We stack them up and cut them all at once.)
- 1 recipe Red Enchilada Sauce (recipe just above)
- 4-8 Eggs
- 1 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup Cotija or crumbled feta
- 4 cilantro sprigs
- 1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced and cut into small triangles
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- Extra Enchilada Sauce
Red Enchilada Sauce
- Heat oil in a large pot and add finely diced onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown.
- Reduce heat and add all of the spices and cook along with onions for about 5 minutes to bloom the flavors. Add flour and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring all the while just to barely brown the flour.
- Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the broth and whisk into the flour-spice mixture until integrated, stirring all the while to prevent lumps. Stir in cider vinegar. Bring to a low boil. At this point, you may need to add a little more broth to thin out the sauce to desired consistency.
- If you make your enchilada sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, you may need to thin it out with some water before you pour it over your enchiladas for baking.
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add tortilla wedges and cook over medium heat until tortillas get crispy and begin to turn golden brown.
- Meanwhile, heat your enchilada sauce in a separate sauce pan to keep warm.
- Cook eggs in a separate skillet to your desired doneness. We like them over easy, but you can cook them sunny side up or even over hard, if that’s how you like them.
- While you are cooking the eggs, pour the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and simmer for just a few minutes.
- Slide the cooked eggs over the chips and sauce and sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over all. Continue to cook until cheese melts.
- Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro, watermelon radishes and avocado. Serve with a spoonful of plain nonfat Greek yogurt or sour cream if you prefer!