Once upon a time, long, long ago I was a college student on a spring break trip in Mexico. Having been just introduced to the wonder that is “all-inclusive” I tried all sorts of interesting looking things at the various restaurants and buffets during the week, with one of those items being spicy, savory chilaquiles. I don’t know what randomly made me think of that one day but I did and decided I wanted to take a crack at making them.
As it turns out the key to chilaquiles is a good rojo sauce. Having never really made a rojo sauce before, I did the sensible thing and found a solid looking recipe as a starting point that I’ve since modified to better fit my tastes. I really love that this batch makes enough to support two meals. Besides the application below, I’ve used it as a mole base, as an enchilada sauce and as a slow cooking sauce for carnitas and it’s delicious all around. Turns out lots of things get better with a good rojo sauce.
Moving along to the main show, chilaquiles themselves come in many variations and flavor combinations and are traditionally eaten for breakfast or brunch. I happen to think they also make an excellent, easy weeknight dinner too and are a good way to mix up your standard “taco Tuesday”.
All Purpose Rojo Sauce
makes enough for 2 meals
7 dried New Mexico chiles
1/2 C chile soaking liquid*
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, chopped
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
*Place dried chiles in a bowl of warm water and let soak and soften for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add chopped onion, crushed tomatoes, plum tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno to a food processor and blend well until mostly smooth. Add spices and honey and pulse twice. Remove chiles from water and trim off stems. Shake out seeds if desired (many may just fall out, which is fine). Roughly chop chiles into large chunks and add to food processor. Blend until entire mixture is smooth. Reserve half of sauce. The rest can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for future use.
3C tortilla chips
2C shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 batch rojo sauce
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C queso fresco or cotija cheese
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
4-5 eggs, poached
Cholula hot sauce, to taste
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, add chicken, green onions, cheddar cheese and 1/2 of the reserved rojo sauce. Toss gently to combine ingredients.
Very lightly grease a 13×9 glass pan. Spread a thin layer of tortilla chips (you may wish to partially crush a few of them, depending on the shape of your chips) across the bottom of the pan. Top tortilla chips with chicken mixture. Crumble 1/4 C of cotija over chicken. Mentally divide remaining sauce into two portions and pour one of the “portions” evenly over the chicken and cheese. Repeat layers – chips, chicken mixture, cotija and sauce.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. While chilaquiles are baking, use your favorite method to poach your eggs. We use this odd Depression-era egg pan of my husband’s but here is an easy picture tutorial to get it right without a special pan. Take note that it only take about 4 minutes to perfectly poach an egg so you will want to wait until your chilaquiles are almost done to drop your eggs in.
Serve chilaquiles with 2 eggs per person and roughly chopped cilantro.