Instead of Huevos Rancheros on Cinco de Mayo, how about gourmet chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lace)?
While there are numerous regional variations of this traditional Mexican breakfast or brunch dish, the basic recipe tops quartered, fried corn tortillas with salsa or mole sauce, and crowned with fried eggs.
Pulled chicken can be added; the dish is topped with shredded queso fresco and/or crema, Mexican sour cream. Sliced raw onion, avocado, or other garnish can be added. A side of refried beans typically completes the dish, which you can see in this recipe.
Chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in Miami sent us her own twist on the recipe. Forget the pulled chicken: She uses beef short ribs.
We’ve broken her recipe into three separate ones since you can use each in combination with other ingredients and dishes.
The history of chilaquiles is below.
With Queso Fundido & Pickled Red Onion
Prep time is 10 minutes; bake time is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325F. In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
2. WHISK together the agave, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in another small bowl. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the salt mixture, then place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
3. BAKE the ribs for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Pull out and brush both sides with some of the agave glaze and bake for an additional hour. Remove the foil, brush with the remaining agave glaze, and bake for another 20 minutes.
*Oaxaca cheese, pronounced wah-HOCK-a, is called the Mexican mozzarella.” It can be purchased in a ball or a braid. Fundido, the Spanish word for molten, refers to melted cheese.
†The quick substitution here are tortilla chips or strips. It’s not authentic, but it works.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Combine the jalapeño, onion, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt, honey, and oil in a blender and set aside.
You may want to make quadruple the recipe: These pickled onions are a delicious garnish for just about anything.
1. BRING the ingredients to a boil in a small pot, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
2. ASSEMBLE: Place the tortilla on a clean work surface. Layer with short rib, queso fundido, and green chile. Top with pickled onion and fresh cilantro.
The name derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word chilaquilitl, meaning herbs (or greens) in chili broth.
A traditional Mexican peasant dish, it provided a way to use stale corn tortillas, a staple food of Central America which are fried as the base of the dish. Chiles, too, were native to the area and readily available.
The simplest form of chilaquiles is simply topped with salsa to soften them somewhat prior to eating: an easy way to fill the stomach. Their cultural significance is as a versatile staple for peasants [source].
As the dish evolved, it incorporated inexpensive ingredients, including leftovers, to make it a main dish: bits of meat, cheese, or eggs.
As with most dishes, there are regional versions: in sauce (green, red, white sauce), in protein (cheese, chicken, pork, shrimp), garnishes (avocado, beans, cheese, onion, radishes), seasonings, and spiciness (epazote, hot chiles), consistency and so on.
Mexico City is known for using a spicy tomato sauce and always tops each serving with an ample sprig of cilantro.
While the dish may be centuries old in Mexico, the first published recipes found in the U.S. are from a cookbook dating to 1898: El Cocinero Español (The Spanish Cook), by Encarnación Pinedo [source].
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