No one can do brunch like the Mexicans. Well, maybe the French. But I seriously adore Mexican morning food. It’s just utterly amazing. Every time we’re on vacation in Mexico (which is not anywhere near frequently enough, if you ask me), I wake up bright and early each morning to make sure I do not miss breakfast.
One of my favorite brunch dishes is chilaquiles (pronounced chee-la-key-lace). Chilaquiles, at its most basic, is stale fried tortilla chips tossed in salsa. Most of the time it’s jazzed up a bit – garnished with cheese, or sour cream, or avocado, or accompanied with a fried egg.
I’ve made this dish many times over the years, and my favorite way is topped with grated Monterey jack cheese, broiled until melted and browned, then each individual serving is topped with a fried egg with a runny yolk. The yolk runs all over the cheese and chips and makes everything luscious.
Chilaquiles is a great option if you’re hosting a small brunch gathering – maybe four to six people. The salsa can be made ahead of time, as can the fried tortillas. Then you assemble it in a casserole dish and cook up eggs while it broils. Serve with garnishes and of course a great brunch beverage, and you’ll have yourself a very festive Sunday morning!
Tip: I do not toss my chips in the salsa until right before I’m putting it in the oven. And I serve it immediately when it comes out of the oven, because I like a little crunch remaining on my chips. But you can certainly have them be softer and chewier if you please. Just let the chips sit in the salsa for a few minutes if this is more your texture. And of course the fried egg is simply my personal preference. Poached eggs or scrambled eggs will work beautifully too. And you really don’t even have to have an egg at all, if they’re not your thing.
Source: adapted from Mexican Made Easy, by Marcella Valladolid
8 corn tortillas, each cut into wedges of 4
1 1/2 tbs canola oil, plus more for deep frying
5 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 small white onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 chipotle in adobo
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 oz. Monterey jack cheese, grated
2-6 large eggs, optional
1/4 cup crumbled Cotija or queso fresco
Heat canola oil in your deep fryer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Working in batches, fry the tortilla wedges until crispy, about 1 minute per side. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and salt them. When all tortilla wedges have been fried, drained and seasoned, place them in a shallow casserole dish, one that holds about 1 1/2 quarts.
Heat the 1 1/2 tbs canola oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion wedges, and garlic cloves. Cook, turning frequently, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender. Remove the onions to a cutting board, snip off the root ends and then add them to the blender as well. Add the chipotle, plus salt and pepper to taste. Puree until very smooth.
Return the sauce to the skillet and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Shut off the heat and keep warm if you’re not ready to use it yet.
Preheat your broiler.
Take the warm salsa and pour or spoon it over the tortilla chips. Give the casserole dish a few shakes on a flat counter surface to get the salsa to the bottom of the dish. Top with the shredded jack cheese and broil for 5 to 8 minutes, until melted, browned and bubbly.
Meanwhile, if using, make the eggs however you desire, allotting 1 to 2 eggs per person.
Remove the casserole from the oven and serve individual portions immediately. Top each portion with the eggs, and sprinkle each with the crumbled Cotija. Serve immediately.