As Mexican as Tacos
Finally, after so much preparation I am ready to write about my favorite Mexican food, the Chilaquiles. For a while I was so crazy about them, that I tried them wherever I went, whether at market stalls or at restaurants. And indeed, chilaquiles are as ubiquitous as tacos, and for a good reason: they are easy and quick to make, super delicious, and take care of the leftover tortillas from the previous day. And since virtually everything is eaten with corn tortillas, which get hard after a day, one can only imagine what things would look like without this amazing dish.
A Cure for a Hangover ?
Another one of its attributes is that it's supposed to cure a hangover. I'm not so sure about that, at least for myself I prefer more traditional methods, such as the hair of the dog that bit me, or since discovering it, a smoothie with a good 30 g of Spirulina. But people here seem to swear by it, so I don't want to completely discredit it. My own theory however involves diligent women cleaning up the leftover tortillas the morning after a party, and serving chilaquiles to the hungover men.
Finding the Ingredients:
So how does one go about making chilaquiles? The ingredients are not that ready to come by. Who would sell stale tortillas, after all? How about the salsa? It's always good to have some around, but if not, it's super easy to make. This is where I ran into major problems when I tried to make some in Germany, trying to find substitute ingredients, and substitutes of the substitutes... In the end what we ended up with was not really bad, but so removed from actual chilaquiles, that we might have made sushi just as well.
What You'll Need:
- half a kilo (a pound) of stale tortillas
- half a liter (two quarts) of red or green salsa
- butter or lard to fry with (oil is okay if you must)
- a few tablespoons of sour cream
- crumbly white cheese
Additionally it's nice to have:
- beef, chicken, or some other meat
How to Make Them:
- Cut or tear the tortillas into small pieces.
- Fry them in butter or lard.
- Pour the salsa over it.
- Fry until perfect.
- Serve with sour cream and cheese on top, and beans, eggs, meat, etc. on the side (optional).
Getting the Perfect Consistency
With so many variables, it sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is. As to how long the tortilla pieces need to be fried, and whether it's better to add the salsa right away or a bit later, it depends on the consistency of the tortillas. Are they really crunchy and brittle? In this case they may appreciate something to soak up. Or are they still sorta soft in the middle? If they are, frying them without the salsa for a minute may be a good idea. In the end you don't want the tortillas to dissolve into a homogeneous mush with the salsa.
Eat Them With What You Have
Speaking for myself, my favorite way to have them is with a pair of fried eggs on the side, and a bit of re-fried black beans. But to each their own. You can experiment with it yourself, and if in Mexico, I highly recommend trying them several times: at restaurants, at street booths, and finally to taste the Ultimate Chilaquiles it's worth visiting the restaurant called Chila-Killers. The place is quite an experience, and certainly deserves its own post, so keep your eyes peeled for a special review.
Until then, take a look my posts from the series What to Eat in Mexico: