Chilaquiles (pronounced [ˌCHēləˈkēlās]), is "a Mexican dish consisting of strips or pieces of corn tortillas that are fried, then sautéed with green or red salsa, and topped with cheese, crema (a sweet, thin cream sauce), and onion (Britannica)." It is definitely a comfort food, but is also an excellent way to not waste that open bag of tortilla chips or half-eaten jar of salsa!
Chilaquiles is traditionally a breakfast or brunch dish. Personally, I could eat it just about any time of day! I also eat typical breakfast food for dinner sometimes, so if you are the type of person that does not believe in breakfast for dinner, maybe don't listen to me.
My chilaquiles are kind of a casserole which is different than what you might find in a restaurant here in the US. My friend and colleague, Maria, taught me this recipe!
The ingredients are simple - corn tortilla chips (or tortillas), salsa, butter (or oil), pico de gayo, Monterey-jack cheese, and an egg. The best thing about it, is that you can adjust your recipe to match your own preferences! Try adding fresh chopped veggies like corn, or jalapeños! You can also add meat to the casserole. I prefer to make the meat separate, like serve the chilaquiles with some chorizo or breakfast sausage on the side. You can pick almost any salsa you enjoy! With the exception of a fruit salsa... although I feel like you could get creative and make some tasty dishes with a bit of chorizo and some mango salsa... hmmm... more on that later.
If you are using tortillas, you will want to fry them up in a pan first. If you are using tortilla chips, they are already fried, so just crumble them into small pieces, and you are ready to go. When crumbling, you can use a food processor if you have one, or you can just put the chips in a bag and use your hands. Either way will work just fine. The smaller the pieces, the smoother the texture.
The salsa you pick is important! The juice is what will flavor the whole dish. We use our homemade salsa usually - which is tomato-y and spicy. You do not have to add pico de gayo, but I love adding it for a little extra texture and the juicy tomato bites. Chilaquiles can be kind of a dry-er dish, so feel free to add more salsa if you want it to be more moist. Adding the egg will also help make the dish a little less dry.
My favorite toppings on chilaquiles include sour cream, green onions, pickled jalepeños, crema, sliced avocado, or over-easy fried eggs. You can mix and match these, or try your own things! Sometimes my husband adds some of his favorite hot sauce as well (if I do not make it spicy enough for him). I think sprinkling a little fresh cojita or queso fesca on top would also add a delicious salty factor.
I apologize for the fluid measuring on this recipe... I honestly just make it based on how much of each ingredient I have. The trick is knowing what the mixture should look like to get the right texture. The most important piece in this recipe, is that when you are creating your mixture, all of the chips (or fried tortilla) pieces are soaked in the liquid. Once you make it once, you will know what I mean and be able to determine how it should look for your taste preference.
1/2-1 bag of tortilla chips, crumbled
1/2 - 1 jar of salsa
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 C fresh pico de gayo
1 C Monterey-jack shredded cheese (or Mexican blend shredded cheese)
Avocado or guacamole
Green onions, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an oven safe baking dish (I use a 2.5 qt French White Circle Corningware baking dish).
In a large mixing bowl, mix the tortilla chips, salsa, egg, butter, and pico de gayo, until well incorporated. Check the consistency. If there are still dry chip pieces, add more salsa until all of the chip pieces are moist.
Once you get the mixture to the consistency you want, spread the mixture into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Enjoy with optional toppings or by itself!