Why It Works
- Freshly-fried tortilla chips provide the heft and crunch required to stand up to being simmered in salsa.
- Cut wedges of soft corn tortillas are deep-fried until puffy and crisp, yet still pale golden.
- Frying the chips just before adding them to the salsa yields the best results.
There are some words you don't normally associate with good food. Wet. Limp. Soggy. These are not descriptors you generally want to be putting in your mouth. But there are exceptions to every rule, and it just happens that one of the most delicious dishes of all time fits all three of those definitions. Chilaquiles just happen to sound a whole lot better than "wet, limp, soggy nachos."
Ok, I'm being a little bit unfair here. The best chilaquiles (the kind we're after) aren't so much wet as moist, and aren't so much limp as "gently softened until the chips retain just a bit of crunch but dissolve in your mouth into a mix of comforting starch and hot salsa." But still, when it comes down to it, chilaquiles are essentially soggy nachos—an excuse to eat chips and salsa for breakfast.
It's a super-simple dish to make once you have the basic ingredients ready. All you've got to do is heat up some salsa in a pan, thin it out with a little water or chicken stock, fold in some chips, and top it all with a few garnishes: Mexican crema, crumbled cheese, sliced onions, chopped cilantro, and fried or scrambled eggs are my go-to. But there's some finesse in perfecting them.
First and foremost, you must use freshly-fried tortilla chips. I've yet to find a brand of store-bought chips that have the heft and crunch required to stand up to being simmered in salsa. I make my chips by cutting whole soft corn tortillas into wedges, then deep frying them in a wok until they're puffy and crisp but not yet deeply browned. Frying the chips just before adding them to the salsa will give you the best possible results.
As for the salsa, you can use a doctored-up store-bought salsa verde or even a couple of cans of enchilada sauce with some fresh cilantro and lime juice if you'd like. But if you go through the trouble of making your own, you'll be rewarded with a breakfast fit for a jefe. Especially when it's topped with a runny egg.
How to Make Sunny-Side Up Fried Eggs
2 quarts vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
16 soft corn tortillas, cut into 6 wedges each
2 cups salsa verde
1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1/2 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
Heat vegetable oil to 375°F (191°C) in a large wok, Dutch oven, or deep fryer. Adjust flame to maintain temperature. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Fry 1/3 of tortilla wedges, using a metal spider to agitate them as they cook. Cook until bubbling slows to a trickle, chips are pale golden brown, and are very crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet and immediately season with kosher salt. Repeat with remaining batches.
Heat salsa verde and chicken broth (or water, if using) in a large straight-sided sauté over medium heat until simmering. Add chips and turn to coat. Cover and set aside.
Transfer 2 tablespoons of oil to a large non-stick or cast iron skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 eggs and cook until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a large plate.
Stir tortilla chips again and season to taste with salt if necessary. Divide between 4 warmed serving plates. Top each with a fried egg. Drizzle with crema, sprinkle with onions, cilantro, and cheese, and serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 38g||49%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||57%|
|Total Carbohydrate 64g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||36%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 16mg||78%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|