When I set out to make chilaquiles, I had in mind the brunch dish, a sort of tortilla and egg casserole with melted cheese. And while I found recipes for what I was looking for, I also stumbled into a fierce debate about the difference between chilaquiles and a Texas dish called migas, which I've cooked before for Dinner Tonight.
The answer was that proper chilaquiles are not defined by eggs at all: The only essential ingredients are thick tortilla chips, a salsa of some kind, and cheese—a tortilla casserole. While Nick has covered Chilaquiles Rojos, I turned to this Rick Bayless recipe for the verde version, which is baked in the oven rather than finished on the stove, making it a little less attention-hungry. But the salsa alone is the real story here: charred tomatillos and onion, pulsed to a purée and loosened with rich chicken stock and Mexican crema. it is rich and gently acidic, chickeny and creamy. The result here is soul-satisfying fare, comforting and delicious.
- 12 ounces thick homemade-style tortilla chips, or equivalent corn tortillas baked or fried to make chips
- 2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 2 jalapeno or 4 serrano chiles, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2/3 cup Mexican crema, or substitute creme fraiche or cream
- 3 cups chicken stock, or substitute vegetable stock or water
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh epazote
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Mexican melting cheese, or substitute Monterey Jack
Arrange the tomatillos and green chiles under a very hot broiler and cook, turning occasionally, until roasted and blackened in spots, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer everything to a blender and blend into a smooth purée.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium and cook the onion until golden, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute, then pour in the tomatillo purée. Bring to a boil, then stir in the broth and crema. Season to taste with salt, then add the cilantro or epazote and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the chips on a 13x9 baking dish, then pour the sauce over them, pressing the chips gently to ensure they are covered in sauce. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake until bubbling and slightly brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately before the chips go soggy.