Nothing is quite as wonderful as sleeping in on a Saturday morning and then waking up to the sweet smells of corn tortillas frying in a pan, red chiles being toasted and fragrant garlic sizzling in a skillet. Knowing that breakfast won’t be ready for another good 15–20 minutes, you turn over in bed, snuggle up and let your belly rumble until you hear, “¡Vengan a desayunar!” (“Come eat breakfast!”)
Chilaquiles aren’t the quickest of recipes, but that is what makes them so incredibly delectable. There are so many different ways to prepare them and serve them, but the main ingredient will always be tortillas.
Traditionally, in Mexico, one would wake up on a weekday morning and send a family member down to the tortilla factory to buy a stack of freshly pressed tortillas. At the end of the week, you would have a pile of hard, stale, leftover tortillas ready to turn into chilaquiles. This dish is also a great way to use up leftover salsa from the week. In my family, we were quite spoiled and always had fresh red salsa made for these.
Alternatively, we would make a similar dish called huevos con tostaditas (eggs with fried tortilla). My mom would make it estilo mexicano (Mexican style), meaning that it had the key ingredients of fresh tomato, onion and serrano peppers mixed into the egg. This dish can also be considered a type of chilaquiles.
Whichever style you choose to make, it is sure to be pleasing to anyone you are feeding for brunch. I say brunch because this dish is not a feat to attempt for an early morning weekday breakfast. This meal takes a little more time than a quick scrambled egg. But the work is worth it: The moment you smell the medley of aromas created by preparing chilaquiles, you will never forget them. Rumor has it that this is the meal that my husband married me for, so be careful whom you feed!
Some quick tips: Try to buy corn tortillas that are a little thick and not too moist. When pan-frying the red chiles, do not let them turn black or they will become bitter. Only fry one or two at a time, and very quickly. Run the fan while frying them to avoid the fumes hurting your nose.
The puya peppers are what make the salsa spicy. If you prefer the salsa to be mild, simply omit them. If you would like your cheese melted, simply add the cheese to the pan once the chilaquiles are done and cover the pan with a lid. Be careful to not let your chips become too soggy. Cotija cheese is the best for the Chilaquiles Rojos and the queso fresco is the best for the Huevos con Tostaditas. Being that it is spring here in Michigan, we have handfuls of fresh spring onions popping up and fresh herbs starting to become more abundant. Liberally decorate your chilaquiles with these mild herbs. If possible, opt for local eggs from organic-fed chickens. The flavor is phenomenal when you use farm-fresh eggs.