Quick Meal for One or a Crowd: Chilaquiles with Eggs and Variations

Here’s another easy, flexible, and delicious Mexican specialty – I like to make this dish for brunch, but it is good for any meal.  Chilaquiles are really quick to make: you can have a serving or two on the table in ten minutes or so if your salsa is made in advance, and if you are making a large quantity, it only takes a little longer to prepare the tortillas.

A friend in Guadalajara, Mexico taught me how to make chilaquiles.  I was a guest in her house for several months, and we often had them for a late weekend breakfast.  Every time my friend made chilaquiles, she mentioned that they are a good way to use tortillas that are no longer fresh, and in fact, she said the tortillas should be at least three days old so they will soak up the sauce.  Of course, she sent her maid to buy a stack fresh from the tortillería every day, and I think they both would be appalled at how long we keep tortillas (they are probably a month old by the time they even get to the store here).  No matter, chilaquiles really are a good way to use old tortillas.  If you have never had chilaquiles before, try this recipe and you’ll be in for a treat.

Chilaquiles with Eggs

Per side serving:

  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 egg, beaten with a generous shake of salt
  • ½ cup thin salsa
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste – depending on the salsa, you might not need extra salt
  • If desired, any of these for garnish: shredded oaxacan or pepper jack cheese, crumbled queso fresco, grated cotija, Mexican crema, crème fraiche, sour cream, snipped chives or cilantro

Note: If you are going for main dish servings, use 3 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, and 2/3 cup salsa per person.

Fry the tortillas in a little oil until they are crisp (use a non-stick pan since you’ll have eggs in the same pan soon).  Stack the tortillas and cut through the stack with kitchen shears, or you can stack them on a cutting board and use a knife – cut each tortilla into 6-8 pieces.  While you are cutting the tortillas, lower the frying pan heat so the eggs will cook without browning.

Pour the eggs into the pan and scramble until set, then add the tortilla pieces back in, mixing them around with the eggs so the tortillas get good and hot.  Turn the heat back up and pour the salsa over all (I was using some fiery “half jalapeño” tomatillo salsa left over from making enchiladas, so I tempered and thinned it by adding almost an equal amount of milk).

Cook and stir until the salsa is hot and the tortilla pieces just begin to soften.  My Mexican friend actually reversed the steps and poured the salsa over the tortillas in the pan and then added the beaten eggs, but the eggs tend to stay softer (gooey, actually) with her method since they blend with the salsa, and I like them cooked all the way dry (and I like the tortillas slightly softened but not soggy).

Chilaquiles Variations

The last time I was at Janessa’s house, I made chilaquiles with her green sauce and we loved them – and of course her red sauce would be equally delicious.  If the sauce you are using is thick, thin it with a little broth, water, milk, or tomato juice.

Another good sauce option:

Salsa de Jitomate Cocido*

Core a big tomato or a couple of romas and dip into boiling water for a couple of minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water, then slip off the skin.  Puree in a blender with a chunk of onion, one or two jalapeño or serrano chiles, a clove of garlic, and salt to taste (I would add a little cumin to the mix).

* Cooked tomato salsa – this is the way my amiga tapatía made chilaquiles (in Mexico, tomatoes are known as jitomates and tomatillos are tomates).

Instead of boiling the tomatoes, you can roast them in the oven, and that produces a slightly sweeter salsa.

Other Variations:

Chilaquiles are fabulous with any kind of leftover shredded or cubed meat, for example: the chicken filling from my enchiladas suizas recipe, pork carnitas (I have a great recipe and will post it sometime soon), or pot roast or turkey moistened with a little broth and seasoned to taste.

If desired, add sautéed peppers (hot or sweet) and onions, or serve them on the side to be added as desired, and I also sometimes add cooked bacon bits when making chilaquiles with eggs (a good spicy chorizo would be nice, too).

Last year on New Year’s Day I had a lot of people over for a Mexican brunch as a prelude to making tamales and realized I’d already used up all my tomatoes for salsa fresca….of course, all the stores were closed, so I made the chilaquiles with a big can of green enchilada sauce mixed with some crème fraiche (you could also buzz a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes in the blender).  It’s hard to go wrong making chilaquiles!

However….one last hint:  if you are ever in a so-called Mexican restaurant and your order of chilaquiles with eggs turns out to be a solid mass of scrambled eggs plopped on the plate next to a pile of corn chips covered with a “salsa” that bears an uncanny resemblance to canned tomato soup, go straight home and make one of our versions instead!


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