Chilaquiles.

I am such a sucker for a recipe with multiple iterations. A recipe that sticks around for a week or two, until you’ve finally become ready for a break. It’s probably why I’m such a big fan of the salad dressing/kale salad combo from last week. Probably. That and the fact that the dressing is awesome. Duh.

We had the original version of this recipe what I think was two weeks ago. I’ve had the remainder of the salsa in the fridge since. What can I say, I push the limits of leftovers, but it was totally fresh when I made it. Like farmers’ market fresh. So I’m sure it’s good.

And then I found some corn tortillas in the fridge. So today (well, not today, as in the day you’re reading this, but today as in Sunday afternoon), I made baked a few of them into tortilla chips, I poured some more salsa over them and some cheese I found in the bottom drawer (feta, this time), and I cracked an egg over it all and baked it all together.

Just as good as two weeks ago, that’s for sure.

That said, I’m not sure this kinda dish really warrants an actual recipe, but I’ll give you one, for the sauce if nothing else. I like my salsa (sauce? salsa? sauce? I dunno…) extra-spicy, and this one definitely is. After that, you basically take said sauce/salsa/whatever and dump it over tortilla chips coated in the cheese of your choice, and you finish it off with a fried egg or two.

Easy peasy.

You could make it for 1, for 2, for 4, you get the point. I’m not one to judge (ok, maybe I am, if you deserve it) but it’d be a crying shame if you left out the cilantro and lime to finish it all off.

And if you can handle it, a little extra sauce on top. A margarita by your side to tame it all down? Brilliant.

Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs
Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2012; serves 4

time commitment: 45 minutes

this is such a super simple dish that’s jam-packed with flavor. if i were you, i’d make the salsa ahead of time, then you have a really quick weeknight meal in about 10 minutes flat. we had these for dinner two nights in a row, so i made the salsa and grated the cheese on the first night, then had them ready for the second night in no time. you’re welcome. also, we had plenty of salsa left over, so you could do all sorts of things with it, or just have chilaquiles all week long ;).

printable version

ingredients
red chile salsa
7 dried ancho chiles
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
1 medium white onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño, with seeds, chopped
1/4 t smoked paprika
2 T vegetable oil
2 t honey or agave nectar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

everything else
36 large tortilla chips
1 c (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or mild feta
1 c (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
4 large eggs
cilantro, freshly chopped
Lime wedges
1 avocado, sliced

instructions
red chile salsa
Place chiles in a medium bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let chiles soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in a blender, discarding stems (you can also discard seeds if you want, but i just tossed the whole thing in). Add tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, and 1 cup reserved soaking liquid; purée until smooth.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add purée and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (add more reserved soaking liquid if too thick). Stir in honey and season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can  make this days in advance, if you’d like. Cover and chill until ready to use.)

putting it together
Preheat broiler. Toss chips and 1 cup sauce in a large bowl. Transfer half of chips to a large ovenproof platter or skillet. Scatter half of cheeses over chips. Top with remaining chips and cheeses, along with 1/2 cup more sauce. Broil until cheese is golden and melted, 4–5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour oil into a nonstick skillet to lightly coat. Heat over medium heat. Add eggs and fry until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.

Top chilaquiles with cilantro, lime wedges, and avocado. Top with fried eggs and serve with remaining sauce alongside.

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Pick It Up, Pack It In

chilaquiles chicken legs

Last month, I re-joined thousands upon thousands of Chicagoans aboard the Chicago Public Transportation system. I’d been driving to work for the past year or so while in culinary school – it was much easier to throw my knife kit, cooking uniform, and gym bag into the trunk rather than lug it all over the city on my shoulder. In doing so, I also enjoyed a short 30 minute commute from my neighborhood to my desk and vice versa and was able to run errands as needed without worrying about what I could and couldn’t carry in my hands.


Sure, I didn’t really have to stop driving once school was finished, but I chose to. I figured, why not cut my travel costs nearly in half and why not reduce my carbon footprint?  Turns out my new, economical, green commute is fairly similar time-wise although it takes slightly longer to get home than it does to get to work (isn’t that always the case??) AND I get to read my book or daydream – things that don’t necessarily work well with driving. 


chilaquiles ingredients


You may ask – what’s the downside? Well, I’ll tell you one – and there really is just one. Groceries. You see, Tuesday is currently my grocery store day for weeknight meals. I hop off the North/Clybourn red line and head on over to the block-sized Whole Foods to grab my supplies for the next few days. On Tuesday morning, I shove a reusable bag (another effort to “do my part”, so to speak) into my purse along with my shopping list, and off to work I go.


For you non-Chicagoans, I should add a snippet: You have never experienced “rush hour” until you’ve been to Chicago (unless you’re in the DC area….which is another traffic nightmare) and experienced our rush hour. We cram ourselves onto the trains and buses, even freeways and look exactly like a can of sardines. Or on the train, many cans of sardines in a single-file line, cans of sardines that just happen to run on a train track.


hominy, tomatoes, tortilla mixture


Hence the 1 bag – not only is it all I’d like to lug home on the bus, but it really is about all that can fit. But this 1 little bag has its limitations as well – like when 1 bag isn’t quite enough. Like when you need a huge can of diced tomatoes and a huge can of hominy (why doesn’t Whole Foods sell small cans of hominy??). Oh, and 4 whole chicken legs. And tortilla chips. It adds up quickly in terms of space – and this is just one dish.


And believe you me – with the huge green push these days coupled with my already-present compulsion to re-use every plastic, paper, and cloth bag I can find (remember how I hate wasting? that carries through to things inedible too…. it’s bad… really bad, kids), I absolutely cringe at the thought of having to use their hefty paper bags if my 1 bag isn’t enough. Cringe to the point of trying to carry it all instead, but then remembering my clumsiness and ultimately facing the facts – using 1 paper bag is better than wasting a handful of good food by dropping it. Not to mention the embarrassment that is coupled with said dropping.


spice-rubbed chicken legs


Plus, I’m willing to think that Mother Earth will forgive me for this one. Heck, I forgave me, even as I shoved my new paper bag beside all the cloth ones I’d left behind :).


What’s wrong with a little forgiveness every once and a while?


chilaquiles chicken legs


Chilaquiles-Style Roasted Chicken Legs
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine; serves 4


This chilaquiles recipe is a great spin on a fantastic Mexican dish. While fresh or store-bought tortillas work just fine, slighly stale chips are even better – think of chilaquiles next time you find that bag of stale chips in your cupboard. The ease in assembly makes this a perfect weeknight meal with the right amount of leftovers. Quick, easy, and super tasty.


printable recipe


ingredients
2 garlic cloves, smashes
kosher salt
1 1/2 t g cumin
1 1/2 t chile powder
2 T evoo
1 28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 c canned hominy, drained
1/4 c sliced pickled jalapenos
6 c lightly crushed thick corn tortilla chips (~6 c; “green bag” Whole Foods)
4 whole chicken legs (drumstick & thigh)
chopped cilantro & sour cream (optional), for serving


instructions

  1. preheat oven to 450 F. mash garlic cloves to paste with a pinch of salt. transfer paste to small bowl and stir in cumin and chile powder and 1 T olive oil.
  2. in 9×13 glass baking dish, toss tomatoes, hominy, jalapenos, and half of the spice mix and remaining 1 T olive oil. Gently mix in tortilla chips
  3. on clean separate cutting board, cut halfway through joint between thigh and drumstick on the underside of each chicken leg. score the top 3-4 times (see picture above), cutting to the bone. rub remaining spice mixture over and into the chicken and arrange skin side up atop mixture in baking dish. roast in center of oven for 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  4. leave chicken in dish in oven and turn on the broiler. broil for ~3 minutes to crisp chicken skin. transfer chicken to plate and continue broiling mixture for another 3 minutes, until tortilla chips are lightly browned. return chicken to baking dish, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with sour cream