I’m always on the lookout for interesting savory snacks and this is one of the best ones I’ve come across in a long, long while. You’ve got the tangy-savory flavors of lime and garlic infused olive oil that you use for both popping and seasoning the popcorn, then you top things off with a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese (such as queso anejo) and a generous amount of finely chopped cilantro for a bit of brightness. I would also suggest adding a little chile flake (Japanese togarashi would be nice) to the mix if you’re a fan of heat. Continue reading
If you’ve fallen into a quesadilla rut, switch things up one of these nights with chilaquiles. Think of chilaquiles as the world’s best nachos or a sort of deconstructed enchilada, but way, way easier to make. This is one of my husband’s favorites and is a fantastic way to transform a bit of leftover roast chicken or that lingering bag of stale tortilla chips into something special — some real deal comfort food. Did I mention it’s super easy?
The only downside for us and chilaquiles these days is that Luca has entered his “suspicious of anything soupy-saucy” phase and this is just the kind of meal he just picks around. The food moves from one side of the plate to the other, he chokes down a few nibbles that look the dryest with a look in his eyes that just screams “UGH…I can’t believe my mom is making me eat this”. On a positive note, it’s on these saucier nights nights, that he goes for his green vegetables first and, on occasion goes for seconds and thirds of them before dealing with his dreaded nemesis. I find it all a little humorous because my husband is what I like to call an “extreme saucer”. Triple what I consider to be an appropriate amount of sauce and he’s generally happy. My genius solution to achieving family harmony when it comes to sauce? Just to make things how I like them and call it a day.
Chilaquiles for Four
- 6-8 tortillas (about 1-2 tortillas per person) or equal amount of tortilla chips
- ~28 oz of red chile sauce (I love this recipe for charred dried California chile and tomatillo sauce for this but you can use your favorite canned red enchilada sauce in a pinch)
- Optional: leftover shredded meat (scrambled or fried eggs work great too)
- Your favorite garnishes such as cotija cheese, avocado, lime edges, cilantro, sour cream, sliced radishes (fresh or pickled). In addition to the more traditional garnishes, I often sprinkle on some finely chopped spinach leaves just for a little extra nutritional boost.
- Cut tortillas into strips about 1/2″ wide. Lightly oil a baking sheet then crisp them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes (check them mid way and give them a toss). You can crisp your tortillas ahead of time and keep them for a day or 2 in an airtight container. I had purchased some low fat tortillas with flax which on their own were kind of terrible, but they were actually fine in this recipe. The point being, this is a very forgiving dish. You can substitute an equal quantity of tortilla chips if you like, we like Casa Sanchez brand.
- Heat your favorite red chile sauce in a large pan that can contain all the tortilla strips/chips. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. If it’s too watery cook it down a bit, if it’s too thick you can thin it with chicken stock. The deliciousness of your chile sauce is what makes or breaks this dish. I can heartily recommend Rick Bayless’s charred guajillo and tomatillo salsa because it’s easy on the spice which is great for kids but big on tangy, rich flavor. If you think there’s a chance you might be making chilaquiles in the next week or so, make this sauce over the weekend and keep it in the fridge. You could substitute a 28oz can of prepared red enchilada sauce in a pinch.
- Once your sauce reaches a nice simmer, pour in the tortillas. Stir them well to coat and let them soften for 2-3 minutes.
- Place the tortillas and sauce onto a serving platter and garnish. Serve right away with a side of black beans and your favorite vegetable. For sauce lovers like my husband, reserve some chile sauce and bring it to the table.
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You might also like: Our Favorite Quick and Easy Recipes; Salsa for Beginners: Charred Guajillo and Tomatillo Sauce; Cooking with Louisa: Taquitos; Effortless Enchiladas; Three Bears: Grilled Salmon Tacos; Cooking with Louisa: Sopa de Tortilla
Our older son is a mini-me of my husband when it comes to food so I predict that he will one day follow in his dad’s footsteps when it comes to hot sauce too, although at the tender age of three he hasn’t quite crossed over to the spicy side yet. This salsa which we’ve been calling “un-spicy sauce” is a perfect introduction to salsa for future chile-heads and people with more mild tastes. It uses dried California chiles (dried Anaheim chiles) so you get the smokey, toasty flavor of chiles without heat. The tang from tomatillos makes it perfect on tacos, scrambled eggs, empanadas, roast chicken or as a dip for chips.
Un-Spicy Salsa (Charred Chile California and Tomatillo Sauce)
- 4 Dried California Chiles (these are the mild Anaheim chile in dried form)
- 1 Slice of Onion, 1/2″ thick
- 3 Tomatillos
- 3 Plum Tomatoes
- 5-6 Small to Medium Cloves of Garlic
- Optional for Chile-Heads: Canned Chipotles in Adobo
- Husk and wash the tomatillos. Place them on a baking sheet (lined with foil for easier clean up) along with the tomatoes, garlic cloves (skin on), and onion slice.
- Place the baking tray under the broiler. Let the vegetables char on all sides. Check them every 5 minutes and turn them with tongs.
- While the vegetables are charring, remove the stems and seeds from the dried California chiles. Toast them briefly in a hot, dry pan. Submerge the de-seeded, toasted chiles in a bowl of hot water until softened. Place a plate on them to keep them submerged.
- Remove the peel from the charred garlic and add all ingredients, including the softened, drained California chiles to a blender. Puree until smooth.
- Taste and season with salt.
For chile lovers, puree a teaspoon of chipotle into the salsa. Add more chipotles a little at a time, pureeing between each addition, until you get to your desired spiciness level. I’ve learned the hard way, not to add too many right off the bat. You can always add more, but you can’t take them out once they’re added. 🙂