The salsa verde version of chilaquiles emphasizes the contrast of the tangy tomatillos against the earthy tortillas.
Sometimes I make green tomatillo salsa just to give me an excuse to make chilaquiles, the comforting Mexican dish made with fried tortillas and salsa. Throughout Mexico, you find both red and green versions of chilaquiles, as well as one made with puréed black beans. But this salsa verde version has always been my favorite. I love the contrast of the tangy tomatillos against the earthy tortillas.
The procedure is simple: Make salsa, and just before serving, stir in a generous amount of crispy fried tortilla wedges. I used to bake or microwave the tortillas to get the chips, but now that nutritionists and the federal Department of Agriculture are telling us that mono- and polyunsaturated fats aren’t so bad for us after all, I gladly fry them.
The fried chips stand up to the salsa and remain crispy much longer than baked ones. Frying them is easy, but you can use store-bought chips if you’d like; just be sure that they are thick, the type sold in bags at Mexican groceries or tortillerías.
In some recipes for green chilaquiles, cream is added to the salsa. I don’t need it here because I add eggs toward the end of cooking and stir just until they set. The creamy chilaquiles now qualify as a substantial dish. Make the tomatillo salsa a day or two ahead, and heat it to a simmer in the morning. Add the eggs, then the chips.
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GREEN CHILAQUILES WITH EGGS
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1½ pounds fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 to 4 jalapeño or serrano chilies, stemmed, to taste (seeded for a milder salsa)
12 cilantro sprigs, plus 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 small white onion, quartered and thinly sliced (about 1 cup sliced onion)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 large eggs
12 thick corn tortillas, cut into wedges and deep-fried or microwaved until crisp (see note), or ½-pound thick tortilla chips from a Mexican grocery
½ cup crumbled queso fresco or feta
1. Heat broiler. Place tomatillos and chilies on a baking sheet and set about 4 inches below broiler. Roast until dark and blackened in spots, about five minutes. Flip over and roast on other side until tomatillos are soft and charred in spots and chilies are soft all the way through, four to five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for five minutes.
2. Transfer tomatillos and chilies to a blender along with juices on baking sheet. Add cilantro sprigs, then blend to a coarse purée.
3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, wide casserole or saucepan and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add a little salt, stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute.
4. Turn heat to medium-high and add tomatillo purée. Cook, stirring often, until salsa thickens and leaves a canal when you run a wooden spoon down the middle. Add broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes or until salsa coats the back of a spoon.
5. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with a little salt. Turn heat to low and stir eggs into salsa. Add chopped cilantro and stir until eggs are set. Mixture should be creamy.
6. Stir in tortilla chips, making sure they are completely submerged, and remove from heat. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and serve at once.
Tip:To make tortilla chips, cut tortillas into wedges and leave out so they dry for an hour or more. Heat 1 to 1½ inches vegetable or canola oil in a wide, deep skillet or wok to 375 degrees. Add tortilla wedges a handful at a time and fry, stirring constantly with a skimmer or heatproof spatula, until dark brown and the bubbling has subsided, 45 seconds to a minute. Remove from the oil with a skimmer and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.