I know St. Patrick’s day is just days away, but I’m not really a beer drinker (mama likes wine), nor am I a huge fan of soda bread, corned beef or shepherd’s pie. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be able to cook some crowd-pleasing celebratory food! I just choose to get a little more multi-cultural with it. Case in point, my love of all cuisines Mexican. Mexico has a special place in my heart – I travel there frequently and was married there. Living in San Francisco, I indulge in good Mexican food on the regular. But when cooking at home, I rarely branch out from a taco. So when Dona – of my favorite restaurant Dona Tomas fame – offered to teach me of few of her amazing Mexican recipes, I jumped at the chance to learn. And I’ve got a guaranteed crowd pleaser for you today.
Dona has taken culinary journeys through multiple regions of Mexico over the last 20 years, gathering inspiration and insights from the wide variety of local cuisines. She’s also worked with a variety of chefs like Rick Bayless among others, but when she asked what I wanted to learn to make I went with my gut – and it said Chilaquiles.
(ps, welcome to my kitchen!)
Now Chilaquiles certainly isn’t a fancy dish. Its origins basically come from having grabbed whatever was available in the cupboards and whipping up a meal – as it is with a many a provincial dish. Chilaquiles is also often considered hangover food (and it is rurl good for that). But really good Chilaquiles is a meal I’d happily eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s just so satisfying and when done right, extremely flavorful. As I learned from Dona – the secret is all in the sauce.
To make Chilaquiles Verde, the key is making the perfect Verde sauce. The ingredients are few: tomatillos, white onion, garlic, jalapeno chiles, cilantro and salt. But the key is soaking the tomatillos overnight to release their skins and their flavor. Then you want to cook the sauce down to get all the flavors to meld before you blend it smooth.
Dona shared a few secrets to making the perfect scrambled egg. She oils her pan with a high-heat oil (grapeseed is great) does not add water or milk and simply keeps the eggs moving in the hot pan. Dona’s number 1 tip: do not overcook the eggs! They should be a little underdone as they’ll keep cooking even out of the pan. Keep scrolling for the complete Chilaquiles Verde how-to below.
DONA TOMAS’ CHILAQUILES VERDE
Sautéed tortilla chips in tomatillo sauce with eggs and cheese
3 cups tomatillos
1/2 white onion sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 to 1 1/2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and halved
1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 T salt
10-14 oz tortilla chips
1 cup shredded mild white Mexican cheese
2 T butter
8 eggs beaten (scramble after you prepare the chilaquiles)
1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 sour cream or creme fraiché ( thin it with a little milk so you can drizzle it)
To make the sauce:
Combine tomatillos, onion, garlic and chiles in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook until just softened ( about 15 min). Strain the solids but save the cooking liquid. Puree the solids in a blender with the raw cilantro and then add some of the (1 to 1 1/2 cups) liquid to thin it so it is pourable but not watery. Salt to taste.
To prepare the chilaquiles:
Place a large skillet with about 2 cups of the tomatillo sauce and heat it, then add the chips and sauté for about 3 minutes or until they are coated in sauce. Add more sauce if they are too dry and cook a little longer. Then add the shredded cheese, stir and gently mix them. The chips should be slightly crisp but tender, and not soggy.
Remove from heat and divide the mixture onto four small plates. Scramble the 8 beaten eggs with the 2 T of butter. Salt to taste. Add the scrambled eggs to each plate and sprinkle with the onion, queso fresco, cilantro and drizzle with creme fraiché. Serve immediately.
This dish, while relatively easy, definitely gives me a little swagger in the kitchen. I can whip it up for my family (or finally have friends over!) and know I can makes some truly delicious and enjoy the process while I do it. If I close my eyes real tight I could also be on a beach somewhere in Baja.
And be sure to check back. Next up will be one of Dona’s famed cocktails.
For the rest of my favorite recipes, CLICK HERE.
original photography for apartment 34 by andrea posadas