Chilaquiles are, at their root, a dish to use up stale tortillas. Extra corn tortillas from the night before are fried and then simmered in a rich sauce. It may sound like a dull dish, but it will surprise you. The tortillas soak up all that delicious sauce and become the perfect accompaniment to fried eggs, shredded chicken, or just cheese and sour cream.
The trick to really good chilaquiles is in the quality of the enchilada sauce. And, it turns out, enchilada sauce is also easy to make yourself. While enchilada sauce can be a longer process, it is pretty easy to throw one together in the way I will outline below, and it is way better than anything you will get out of a jar or can. But chilaquiles are also known as a hangover food, and I won’t blame you if, after a long night, your sauce comes out of a can. We can’t be perfect all the time.
This is a great recipe to have in your playbook while traveling in your van or bus, because it makes a killer Sunday brunch, and you can throw it together from pantry staples and a few leftover tortillas.
Enchilada sauce is easy to make and so damn good. Just make sure you buy the chili powder from the Hispanic food aisle–it is way better and it’ll save you a few bucks.
2 tbsp neutral oil
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp chili powder (buy the good stuff)
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp oregano
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
Salt, to taste
Make a roux with the oil and flour over medium heat until it is just cooked. Add the spices and allow them to toast for 30-60 seconds. Add the stock and stir until there are no lumps. Allow the sauce to reduce for 15 minutes until you have around 12 ounces. Add salt and vinegar or lime juice to taste (around ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp vinegar/lime juice).
6 corn tortillas
½ cup enchilada sauce
The tortillas can be baked or fried. Cut them into chip shape. For the oven, brush them with oil and bake at 350 until nice and crunchy. To fry, bring a small amount of oil to medium heat and toss the tortillas in, making sure to move and flip them often to allow a nice crispy fry. In both cases, remove the chips to a plate and salt them liberally after cooking.
Heat the enchilada sauce in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, toss the chips in and stir them about to get an even coating on all surfaces. They do not need to cook for long. Divide these between two plates and top with any of the many great chilaquiles toppings.
My ideal chilaquiles are topped with a bit of Mexican-spiced shredded chicken, sour cream, avocado pieces, fried eggs, crumbled queso fresco, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, and a bit of hot sauce.