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Seasoned To Perfection: Enjoy Chilaquiles Before The Party Is Over

The multifaceted dish, based on tortilla chips and salsa, is a stalwart of Mexican cuisine.

Despite the simplicity in its preparation, chilaquiles is an emblematic dish of Mexican gastronomy. Its secret will always be the cook’s seasoning.

Mexicans enjoy this spicy dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is traditional in this country to eat hot food after a night on the town. They often serve chilaquiles at the end of wedding parties, graduations and quinceañeras.

People can buy chilaquiles anywhere, from street stalls to restaurants to large hotels.

There are options for everyone’s taste — acidic or spicy, with green or red salsa, bathed with cream, cheese and onion.

Mexicans enjoy chilaquiles at any time of the day, but the dish is particularly popular at breakfast. Sometimes, it helps recover from a hangover. (Mike Mayer/Unsplash)

“Chilaquiles can be simple or exotic, you decide. In addition to cream and cheese, you can accompany this dish with a steak, fried eggs or shredded chicken,” said Hermelinda Galindo, a 57-year-old Mexican teacher.

Mexicans enjoy chilaquiles even as the filling of a sandwich.

“It’s funny. Chilangos [Mexico City’s residents] like the chilaquiles sandwich, which is nothing more than chilaquiles in bread. They eat starch filled with starch. It makes me laugh a lot. But this fact speaks about how important this dish is,” said Galindo.

The base of chilaquiles is tortilla chips, which are made by frying tortillas in oil. There is controversy as to how to apply the salsa.

“In general, there are two ways to cook chilaquiles. Some bathe them in salsa and some dip them in it. The second option would be the most correct, since it allows the fried tortilla to soak up the salsa’s seasoning,” said Silvia Nicte-Ha, a gastronomy graduate from the Mexican University.

Homemade chilaquiles are a longtime favorite for family breakfasts. (Christian Valera Rebolledo/Café Words)

Do you want to give chilaquiles a try? Here is chef Nicte-Ha’s recipe.

Homemade chilaquiles 

Ingredients 

2 serrano peppers

2 tomatoes

1 onion

1 garlic

Epazote leaves

1 tablespoon powdered chicken broth

Corn tortilla chips

Preparation:

First, prepare the salsa. In a pot with water, boil the peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Make sure “the water covers all the ingredients well,” said the chef. Once they are cooked, blend them with chicken bouillon.

Heat oil on a wide pot. Pour in the salsa, let it cook for two minutes and test for salt.

Add the epazote leaves previously washed. This spice “is very important because it is what gives chilaquiles its flavor,” said Nicte-Ha.

Then, add the number of chips you like. Stir carefully. “One must avoid beating them,” she said.

Turn off the heat. Serve with cream and cheese and enjoy this Mexican dish that is as multifaceted as its people.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Fern Siegel.)