Sometimes opening our refrigerator is akin to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan: I’ll reach for a pitcher of iced coffee near the back of the top shelf, and 27 minutes later tupperware with unidentifiable and vaguely grayish contents is still toppling to the floor. See . . . as you might have gathered, we like to cook, and, though we try but invariably fail not to cook for forty, the next day we’d rather dine on almost anything other than the leftovers we swore we’d eat before firing up that dutch oven again. I might be committing a cardinal food-blog sin by admitting to this predicament (we can’t all be carefully curated lifestyle mavens with Le Creuset toenail clippers and a rolling pin hewn from the antique cradle in which our mothers first rocked us . . . can we?), but I know I’m not alone in my ambivalence about leftovers.
That’s one of the reasons why I love chilaquiles for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I usually convince Micah to cook them for me after we’ve made fish tacos the night before, and we have an abundance of leftover corn tortillas in our fridge. Plainly stated, chilaquiles is a Mexican dish where corn tortillas are sliced thinly then fried, customarily topped with some sort of salsa or mole to soften the bite, often accompanied by eggs, guacamole, or even refried beans. Micah only ever makes mine with eggs and one of his delicious sauces, and that’s how I’d encourage you to eat yours as well, especially if you don’t have your own live-in Mexican boyfriend to steer you through the permutations.
Two years ago, I traveled nearly four thousand miles for my first plate of chilaquiles. I flew to Texas to help Micah pack and say goodbye to his friends and family before uprooting his known world to join me in Hawaii. I remember his shaky smile at the Austin airport and how new his arms felt after being apart from mine for but a few short weeks, and I remember demanding that he take me to breakfast immediately. There, at a Maudie’s Tex-Mex restaurant, Micah delineated the differences between migas, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles while fidgeting with his menu. I remember thinking I wanted to hold his hand even more than I wanted a diet coke; in the end, though, I got both. Before we flew back to Hawaii a week later, I’d eaten chilaquiles three or four more times, met his mother, cried with him some. I remember how we promised each other a lifetime of such adventures when we boarded the plane for the return flight home. I hold him to this promise daily, and he doesn’t disappoint—Micah knows a thing or two about adventures . . . namely that all the best ones involve food.
- 4 Poblano peppers
- 10 tomatillos, husk on
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Set your oven to broil.
- Toss the first four ingredients with olive oil and salt on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until scorched and bubbly (approximately five minutes on each side).
- Remove from the oven and place in a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and and set aside for 10 minutes to steam.
- Peel husk off the tomatillos and pulse in a food processor with the garlic until smooth.
- Carefully peel the skin off the poblano peppers, removing as much of the skin as possible. Cut the stem, remove all the seeds, and add to food processor.
- Combine remaining ingredients in processor until smooth.
- Vegetable oil, for pan frying
- 2-3 corn tortillas, cut into tiny squares
- ⅓ cup Salsa verde
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 eggs
- Roasted Poblano crema (see link in text), for garnish
- Crumbled queso fresco, for garnish
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Sliced avocado, for garnish
- Coat a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet with vegetable oil and place over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the tortilla pieces and cook until crispy and lightly browned. Do not overcrowd your pan.
- Add the green onion and salsa verde to the tortillas and stir to combine over low heat.
- If serving the chilaquiles with sunny-side up eggs, break the eggs into the skillet over the tortilla and salsa mixture, and place into the oven under broil just until set.
- If serving a chilaquiles scramble, crack the eggs into the skillet over the tortilla and salsa mixture, stir and cook stove-top until the eggs are set.
- Remove from heat, plate, and top with sliced avocado. Drizzle with Poblano crema, additional salsa, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and queso fresco.