Make a Meal of Chips and Salsa

Making chilaquiles is a customizable, four-step process—easier to execute than saying "chilaquiles" five times fast.

  1. Make sauce.
  2. Fry or buy tortillas.
  3. Cook.
  4. Top.

Ready? Go:

Photo by Mark Weinberg

1. Make the sauce, the salsa-sauce

You can use red or green salsa or even mole. Since we're already doing this whole no-recipe thing, why not make salsa without a recipe, too?

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For salsa verde, substitute tomatillos for the tomatoes. You can also just use your favorite jarred salsa, but, regardless, keep in mind you'll want about 2 cups of salsa.

Now, heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a heavy, nonstick skillet or wide saucepan, add the salsa, and simmer—stirring occasionally—until it thickens slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add enough chicken or vegetable stock or broth to thin the sauce, about 1/2 cup or so, and return the sauce to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes more, or until it thickens slightly again. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.

2. Fry, baby, fry (or open a bag)

You can make your own or use your favorite store-bought tortilla chips—preferably thick-cut and unsalted.

To fry tortilla chips, stack some corn tortillas on top of one another and cut into 4 or 8 wedges, then separate the triangles. Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot to around 375° F. Add the chips in batches and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Ran out of oil? Not into frying? You can also bake the chips. For the chilaquiles, you'll want about 4 cups of chips, depending on your desired chip-sauce ratio (a.k.a. you can use more or less).

Photo by Mark Weinberg

3. Time to cook

First, reheat the salsa-sauce, if necessary, and bring it to a simmer. You can add-in what you like now, like a few beaten eggs (scrambling them into the sauce), black beans, or cooked, shredded chicken (from leftover roast chicken or a rotisserie one).

Add the chips last, tossing gently and simmering until the tortillas absorb enough sauce to soften a bit. Be careful not to break the chips, but if you do, don't stress. Broken chips taste like whole chips.

To make chilaquiles for a crowd, do as Rick Bayless does and preheat the oven to 300°F. Put the chips into a baking dish large enough to fit them snugly and cover with the sauce, making sure all the chips are coated. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, if using (see below), cover with foil and bake for 10 or so minutes or until the chilaquiles are bubbling.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

4. Top it off

Chilaquiles customization is 80 percent in how you choose to garnish. Here are oh a few ideas:

If you want, you can briefly broil the chilaquiles to melt and crisp the cheese before adding anything else. If not, just layer on those toppings and you're done! Serve immediately, straight from the skillet or on plates like a civilized person or something.

Photo by Mark Weinberg
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