This is when I ask what you did with the tortilla scraps left over from Taco night. Did you cut them up and leave them to go stale in the breadbin as requested? If so, you are in for a big treat because today is the day when we make the most delicious, the most delectable of all Mexican dishes sometimes but not always known as the Mexican lasagne. You will be so happy after that first mouthful you will weep with joy and bow down with gratitude at the feet of yours truly. That’s right, we are making, in fact, we are constructing Chilaquiles!!!
I think I’ve sufficiently built the excitement so now I can get down to the nitty gritty. I first discovered Chilaquiles whilst watching an episode of Daisy Cooks on American Television way back when. The cook in question is a certain Daisy Martinez who specializes in Mexican food and seeing as I have become increasingly obsessed with all things Mexican since spending time in Chi-Town I gobble up, metaphorically and otherwise, anything to do with this most glorious of cuisines.
I hope my enthusiasm is palpable because once these flavours get up your nose, on your tongue and in your tummy you’ll be craving more and then some. Now it is very lucky that I have a ridiculously good memory for remembering recipes because after watching said programme I trawled the internet and for the life of me could not find the exact one I had witnessed and yes, I even checked the Daisy Martinez website. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of Chilaquile recipes (as many as there are regions in Mexico) to be had but not one like this. Most are like glorified Nachos and whilst Nachos have their place what I wanted was Daisy’s TV version. Not to fear, I motor on with my memory and added a few extras – I’m always trying to make use of what I have in my fridge and cupboard and I despise wasting food, which is why I included the baby sweet peppers and served with asparagus (grown in Mexico no less!).
It is not a quick dish and there are few elements involved so if you are in any kind of hurry I’d recommend leaving it to a night where you have more time. A crucial discrepancy with the particular recipe I post here is that the original uses tomatillos and I’ll be darned if I can’t find a single tomatillo in Fulham. My sauce then, whilst lacking in tomatillos, certainly does not lack in taste and although a compromise is still an absolute triumph! I urge you, no I plead with you to make these tonight.
Have a peek at Daisy’s website for more Mexican yumminess:
3 baby sweet peppers
1 can tomatoes (plum or chopped)
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
3 cloves garlic
3/4 chicken thighs (skin on)
100g cheddar cheese (or monterey jack if you can get it or any good melting cheese)
salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the chicken thighs in a dish – breast will not work in this recipe. Season, brush with a little oil and bake for around an hour. All ovens are different so keep an eye on them, you want them falling off the bone moist so try not to overcook.
Shallow fry the tortilla scraps in batchs – I cut them into triangles like tortilla chips. You want them to be golden on both sides and crispy but not burnt. You will have to stand over them whilst doing this. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat butter and oil. Dice onion, mince garlic and fry in the same frying pan you used for the tortillas until soft. Chop chillis and finely slice the peppers into strips. Add to the pan with the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes. The peppers will cook in the sauce so there’s no need to fully cook them now. Blitz the canned tomatoes with a hand blender until there are no bits and it is completely smooth – this is why it doesn’t matter what tomatoes you use. I’m not really one for gadgets but I couldn’t live without my hand blender. Add to pan along with a half can water. Stir in chilli powder, sugar (this counteracts the acidity you often find with canned tomatoes), season generously and simmer for 20mins. Make sure to taste and season as required. Also, you want plenty of sauce so ensure it doesn’t get too dry.
Take meat off chicken and shred. Grate cheese. Chop coriander (that’s cilantro for US readers). At this stage add the coriander to the sauce and mix thoroughly.
Now it’s time to assemble. A square/rectangular shaped dish works best I think. A layer of tortillas first – use half. If they are sticking up press down firmly so there is a flat layer of tortillas. Half of the shredded chicken goes on top followed by slightly less than half of the sauce and cheese. Repeat. Make sure the sauce covers everything and the cheese is evenly distributed. Pop in the oven, still at 200 degrees for 20-30mins – I took mine out at 25 and it was perfectly golden and bubbling. You could let it sit for 5mins before cutting, as it will be piping hot.
Eat and smile:)