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Vacation in Mexico chilaquiles: Tortilla soup meets enchiladas

Chilaquiles, a Mexican dish of leftover tortillas simmered in a quick tomato sauce, is often served for breakfast or brunch. It’s even better topped with a fried egg.

ILEANA MORALES | Special to the Times

Chilaquiles, a Mexican dish of leftover tortillas simmered in a quick tomato sauce, is often served for breakfast or brunch. It’s even better topped with a fried egg.

They say it takes 21 days for something — like our morning ritual of chilaquiles and tequila sunrises while on a recent family vacation at a beach north of Cancún — to become a habit. But when you're in Mexico spending most of your day in water that's unbelievably blue and not knowing what time it is (and not caring), I think that number shrinks by quite a bit.

There was no reason for this morning routine to change — except that we had to go back home. To reality.

We were back from Mexico with some serious tans and a serious craving for chilaquiles. It was time to make my own.

Chilaquiles is a Mexican dish of leftover tortillas simmered in a quick tomato sauce. It's often served for breakfast or brunch, and I love it topped with a fried egg. The version I had in Mexico came with a red sauce and shredded chicken, so it's what I went for here, but I've also seen recipes that call for chorizo or no meat at all.

This is an easy meal, and you can adapt the recipe to use what ingredients you have on hand. The chipotle adds a great smokiness, but if you don't have it at home I wouldn't sweat it. Just sub in paprika or leave it out.

I reduced the amount of broth called for in the original recipe for a less saucy skillet of chilaquiles. A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet worked beautifully for this dish. I left the tortillas out on the counter overnight so they'd harden, but you can also do this in a low-temperature oven. Many other recipes will also fry the tortillas lightly, turning them into chips. I have just one tortilla rule: It has to be corn. Always corn.

I actually forgot to add the cheese — the recipe calls for ¼ cup crumbled Cotija or shredded Monterey Jack cheese — and it wasn't missed so you can consider that optional.

I'm working on re-creating the vacation tequila sunrise next, but you've gotta eat your tortillas before you can have your tequila.

Ileana Morales is a writer living in St. Petersburg with fiance Danny Valentine, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen stories, visit Ileana's blog, Contact her at



10 or 11 corn tortillas (8 ounces), left out at room temperature overnight

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and ½ cup liquid reserved

2 chipotles in adobo or 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder

1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large white onion, thinly sliced, divided

3 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup chicken stock or broth


1 ½ cups shredded chicken

¼ cup crumbled Cotija or shredded Monterey Jack cheese

cup sour cream or goat cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Fried egg (optional)

Cut tortillas into quarters or sixths.

Use a blender to combine the tomatoes with their reserved ½ cup of liquid and the chipotles; blend until almost smooth.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add two-thirds of the onion and cook until browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and stir in chicken to coat with sauce. Remove from heat.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the sauce, making sure they are well coated with the sauce. Top with the remaining onion, the shredded chicken and the cheese. Dollop the sour cream over the chilaquiles, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve immediately. Top with fried egg if using.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Rick Bayless via Food & Wine

Vacation in Mexico chilaquiles: Tortilla soup meets enchiladas 09/01/14 [Last modified: Monday, September 1, 2014 1:02pm]
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