Chilaquiles (“chee-lah-keel-aiys”) are a classic Mexican hangover dish. My buddy Juan Carlos first raved about them years back and described them as “tortilla chips in really good sauce”. They didn’t really sound all that special at the time, but hey, good tortilla chips and sauce is never disappointing, right? Well, I’m now well versed in chilaquiles, and let me tell you, they are wonderfully satisfying. This creamy-spicy sauce will transform your typical cure-for-a-terrible-hangover breakfast and bring you back to life.
Traditional chilaquiles are made with either a spicy red or green tomato sauce and topped with diced onion, cream, and queso fresco. This recipe was inspired by the most delicious chilaquiles I’ve ever tasted from La Cafeteria in Guadalajara, Mexico. Their creaminess comes from the coconut milk and nuts, and the spicy kick from the serrano chiles. So knock back another tequila, because these chilaquiles are best served the morning after a night of getting properly schnockered.
Shopping at the Market
Now, shopping for the ingredients for this dish required a stop by the local market. I tagged along with Irene, the owner, mother, and Goddess-of-the-Kitchen of the hostel I’m working at right now to get the things I needed. Shopping in the market with her is. the. best. She’s got this “take no s***” attitude yet never comes off as rude, and gets a massive amount accomplished in little time.
Here’s an example a typical conversation with her fruit and veggie vendor, Felix:
Felix: Hey Irene, how’s it going?
Irene: Good afternoon, Felix. This pineapple you sold me is crap. (shows Felix a cut of the shoddy pineapple she’s lugging along with her)
Felix: Oh, I’m sorry about that. It still tastes good though!
Irene: You think I care? I can’t serve this to my guests looking like this!
Felix: Ok, well, can I give you another one?
Irene: Like hell you can. This is the fourth garbage pineapple you’ve sold me in a row. (To me:) Girl! Fill this bag with 3 kilos of firm, ripe tomatoes. No bruises!
Emma: Got it, boss (lah-dee-dah…)
Felix: So what else, Irene?
Irene: I want 2 kilos of avocados. And how are the kiwis?
Felix: They’re beautiful. Look! (handing over the fruit)
Irene: They’re hideous. Got any mangos?
Felix: No, I’m sorry.
Irene: Well that’s not surprising. To me: Girl! Let’s get a move on. See ya, Felix.
Felix: Take care!
Cilantro Almond Chilaquiles
To save time, throw the sauce together the night before and bring to room temp in the morning before preparing the dish. If you’re feeding meat and cheese eaters, shredded chicken and a crumbled cheese like queso fresco are delightful piled on top of the stack of chilaquiles.
3 Corn Tortillas per person
1 13.5 oz Can of Coconut Milk
½ Cup Almonds
½ Cup Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
½ Yellow Onion (or one whole small onion)
1 Bunch of Cilantro
2 Serrano Chiles (more or less depending on spice level)
2 Cloves Garlic
Vegetable Oil for frying
Olive Oil for Sautéing
To prepare the sauce, sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add nuts, cilantro, and heat until mixture is caramelized. Place mixture, salt, and can of coconut milk in blender and whir until smooth and incorporated. Check for salt.
Next, cut tortillas into strips or triangles (shape is simply a matter of preference) while vegetable oil (1/2 centimeter deep) is heating up. Fry tortilla strips in batches until golden and crispy. Add ladle full of sauce to pan and continue frying until sauce warms and covers strips completely. Move to plate and garnish with carrots, seeds, cheese, radishes, potatoes, or whatever you have on hand. Dig in!
Use any extra sauce as topping for any and every dish. It’s mighty tasty…