What are Chilaquiles and Why Are They So Good?
Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish that consists of tortilla chips (or strips) that are typically fried or baked and then covered in various sauces. The dish is often served for breakfast or brunch and can be topped with a variety of ingredients, such as salsa, cheese, sour cream, avocado, and sometimes eggs or meat.
The preparation of chilaquiles can vary regionally in Mexico and among different households, leading to different styles and flavors. Commonly, the tortilla chips are either simmered in a red or green salsa until they soften but maintain some texture, or they can be topped with the salsa and then baked. The result is a flavorful and comforting dish with a mix of textures and tastes, ranging from crispy to soft, spicy to savory. Chilaquiles are enjoyed for their versatility and are often considered a delicious way to use leftover tortillas.
Who Invented Chilaquiles?
The exact origin of chilaquiles is not well-documented, and like many traditional dishes, it likely evolved over time through cultural influences and regional variations. Chilaquiles are deeply rooted in Mexican cuisine and have been a part of the country's culinary tradition for generations.
While it's challenging to pinpoint a single individual or moment of invention for chilaquiles, it is safe to say that the dish has a long history and is deeply embedded in Mexican culinary culture. Chilaquiles have become a popular and beloved dish both in Mexico and internationally, appreciated for their delicious combination of flavors and textures.
What Do Your Serve Chilaquiles With?
Chilaquiles can be served with a variety of accompaniments, depending on personal preferences and regional variations. Here are some common toppings and side dishes that are often served with chilaquiles:
- Crema or Sour Cream: A dollop of crema (similar to sour cream) is a common topping, adding a cool and creamy element to contrast with the spiciness of the salsa.
- Cheese: Grated Mexican cheeses such as queso fresco, queso añejo, or shredded Oaxaca cheese are often sprinkled over chilaquiles for added richness.
- Avocado: Sliced or diced avocado provides a creamy and buttery texture that complements the dish.
- Onions and Cilantro: Chopped fresh onions and cilantro can be sprinkled on top for a burst of freshness and added flavor.
- Radishes: Sliced radishes add a crisp and slightly peppery element to the dish.
- Fried or Poached Eggs: Many variations of chilaquiles include eggs, either fried or poached, served on top. The runny yolk can add a luscious richness to the dish.
- Beans: Refried or black beans are sometimes served alongside or on top of chilaquiles, providing protein and heartiness.
- Meat: Chilaquiles can be served with additional proteins such as shredded chicken, chorizo, or grilled steak for a more substantial meal.
- Hot Sauce: For those who enjoy an extra kick of heat, hot sauce or additional salsa can be served on the side.
- Lime Wedges: A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds acidity, enhancing the overall flavor profile of the dish.
Remember that these are just suggestions, and the beauty of chilaquiles lies in their adaptability. You can customize the toppings and sides based on your preferences and creativity.
What Is a Chilaquiles Breakfast?
A chilaquiles breakfast typically consists of chilaquiles as the main dish, often served with a combination of traditional accompaniments. Here's a breakdown of what a chilaquiles breakfast might include:
Chilaquiles: The central element of the breakfast is, of course, the chilaquiles themselves. These are typically made by frying or baking tortilla chips or strips until they are crispy, then simmering them in a flavorful salsa until they soften but maintain some texture.
- Crema or Sour Cream: A dollop of crema adds a creamy and cooling element.
- Cheese: Grated Mexican cheeses such as queso fresco or queso añejo provide a rich and savory touch.
- Avocado: Sliced or diced avocado contributes a buttery and creamy texture.
- Onions and Cilantro: Chopped fresh onions and cilantro add freshness and flavor.
- Eggs: Fried or poached eggs are a common addition to chilaquiles breakfast, providing a protein-rich element. The runny yolk can mix with the dish, adding richness.
- Meat: Additional proteins like shredded chicken, chorizo, or grilled steak can be included for a heartier meal.
- Beans: Refried or black beans are sometimes served alongside chilaquiles, offering extra protein and substance.
- Salsa: A side of additional salsa or hot sauce allows individuals to adjust the spice level to their liking.
- Lime Wedges: Fresh lime wedges provide a burst of acidity.
- Coffee or Hot Chocolate: A warm beverage like coffee or hot chocolate is often enjoyed with a chilaquiles breakfast.
- Agua Fresca: A refreshing fruit-flavored drink, such as agua fresca, can also complement the meal.
Chilaquiles breakfast is a popular and satisfying way to start the day in Mexican cuisine. The combination of textures, flavors, and the customizable nature of the dish makes it a versatile and delicious breakfast option.
Mexican Chilaquiles Breakfast Recipe
For the Salsa Rosa (Red Sauce)
- 3 large tomatoes chopped
- ½ onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 dried ancho chilies deseeded and soaked in hot water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Chilaquiles
- corn tortillas cut into triangles or strips
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken optional
- 1 cup queso fresco cheese crumbled
- ½ cup crema or sour cream
- 1 avocado sliced
- lime wedges for serving
- 4-6 fried or poached eggs
Prepare the Salsa Roja
- In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until softened.Add the chopped tomatoes and soaked dried chilies (remove seeds for milder heat) to the pan. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the chilies are rehydrated.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add chicken or vegetable broth, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the Chilaquiles
- In a separate pan, heat vegetable oil for frying over medium-high heat.
- Fry the tortilla triangles or strips in batches until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Assemble the Dish
- In the same pan, pour the salsa roja and bring it to a simmer.
- Add the fried tortillas to the simmering salsa and gently toss until the tortillas are coated and begin to soften.
- Top each serving with a fried or poached egg for an extra protein boost and richness.
Customize and Serve
- If using, add shredded cooked chicken to the chilaquiles and toss until well combined.
- Serve the chilaquiles on plates, topped with crumbled queso fresco, crema, sliced avocado, and any additional toppings you prefer.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.