I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice before, but I seemingly fall in love with a new dish every time I go on vacation or take a business trip somewhere new. It’s only natural, then, that I want to come home and relive a little bit of the memories.
Sometimes, this leads me to an ambitious desire to create perfectly-crafted plates of spaghetti carbonara or a top-notch French press café au lait, knowing that it’s worth the effort if I can just recreate a bit of that greatness. And then, sometimes, I’m just willing to raid my pantry for a cheap imitation.
The gears started turning for me a few weeks back when gansie shared her experience pairing a fried egg and some potato chips (hat tip Monica Bhide). That took me back to my honeymoon in Mexico and my first exposure to chilaquiles. In case you’re not familiar with the dish, it’s the ultimate hangover breakfast food: leftover fried tortillas simmered in salsa and topped with whatever else you may have laying around. And if one of those things happens to be an egg, all the better.
It’s a wonderful dish because it’s filling, it’s fried and it’s scalable, meaning you can include as much or as little above and beyond the basic ingredients of tortillas and salsa. If you happen to have some pulled chicken or carnitas around, it’s a perfect way to take a snack or breakfast dish and turn it into a dinner entrée.
The preparation below is certainly geared to a non-Mexican kitchen, so please don’t trash me in the comments for being inauthentic. I’m sure your abuela’s version is vastly superior. I’m looking for something easy that I can assemble while nursing a pounding headache.
One plate of restaurant style tortilla chips
One half cup jarred salsa (red or green)
Eggs (one or two)
Crumbled Mexican cheese like queso fresco
Get two frying pans going over medium heat — one to fry an egg over-easy and one to begin warming up the salsa. Once one pan is ready for the egg and the salsa starts gently bubbling in the other, add the egg(s) and begin to fry. Add the chips to the salsa and gently toss to coat, taking care not to break up the chips. You’re looking to soften them a bit without turning them to complete mush.
Once the tortillas are done to your liking, remove them to a plate and sprinkle liberally with cilantro, cheese and onion. When the egg is done, place it on top of the mounded tortillas and top it with salt, pepper and any remaining garnishes. Enjoy immediately, breaking up the yolk and spreading it throughout to make a sauce.
The recipe is completely customizable — in fact some variations have you scrambling the eggs — but however you make it, chilaquiles are the perfect Sunday morning treat after a long night of cervezas and tequila.