Tonight’s dinner is another trip back to my childhood in Mexico. Chilaquiles is an interesting dish. It is a poor man’s dish and is designed to use up old, stale tortillas. It can be made with just tortillas and sauce which is traditional, or with added chicken or pork, or served for breakfast with fried eggs on top.
My mother adapted her recipe and modified it without any real spice so my sister and I, as kids would eat it. Today, I’ve taken the recipe back to a more authentic version. The one thing I did keep is to finish the dish in the oven rather than cooking it just on the stove top. This makes it almost a Mexican lasagna in texture. The sauce softens the tortillas a lot, then baking crisps up the edges again.
Some of the ingredients may seem foreign but I was able to find all but one at my local Giant Food Store.
This will make one 11 x 13″ casserole:
INGREDIENTS: (This can be made with chicken as well — ultimately you need about 1# of cooked, shredded meat.
For the pork:
- 4.5# bone-in pork shoulder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 stalk celery, cleaned and cut into 3rds
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into 3rds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 onion, rough chunked
- 2 Clementines or 1 orange, cut in half
In an oven proof pot, put the veggies and bay leaf in the bottom of the pot. Rub the roast all over with the spices and put into the pot on top of veggies. Finally, squeeze the clementines or orange on top of the pork and toss the halves into the pot. Cover tightly with foil, put into a preheated 325 oven, and let cook undisturbed for 3 hours.
When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it sit for about 1/2 to 1 hour, then shred the meat. You can use two forks, but there is quite a bit of fat on a pork shoulder. I find it much easier to wash my hands really well and use my hands to shred it. Put the meat into a bowl or container and refrigerate.
A 4.5# bone-in roast will produce a little over 2.25# of meat. You will need 1/2 for the chilaquiles, so you can freeze the rest or make a great taco salad, tacos like I posted earlier, or throw it into soup or stews.
FOR THE TORTILLAS: PLEASE USE CORN TORTILLAS – FLOUR TORTILLAS WILL DISINTEGRATE AND MAKE MUSH.
Take approx. 24 old tortillas and place directly on your oven racks in a pre-heated 325 oven. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are crispy and browned. Let them cool and set aside in a ziplock bag. These can be made a day or two in advance.
NOTE: you can cut your tortillas in triangles and bake then, but then you need to dirty a cookie sheet. You can also use store bought tortilla chips but they have an awful lot of unnecessary salt and fat, so I prefer to just make my own.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:
- 2 to 4 Dried Guajillo chiles, remove the stem and seeds
- 2 to 4 Dried Chiles de arbol, seeds removed if you can
- 2 C boiling water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small sweet onion, rough chopped
- 2 C tomato sauce
- 1 C low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pint Daisy light sour cream
- 1 to 2 sprigs epazote (found in the local Mexican market)-don’t stress if you can’t find it. It adds a distinct and traditional flavor, but isn’t essential
- 1 round of Queso Fresco or Cojita Cheese, grated for the top
- OPTIONAL: Rough chopped cilantro sprinkled on top
Put the dried guajillo chiles and chiles de arbol into a heat safe dish. I used a 4 C pyrex measuring cup, and cover with boiling water. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
In your blender, put 2 cloves of garlic, the onion and the chiles and all the water they soaked in. Run the blender until the onions, peppers and garlic are all pureed.
In a large skilled, add a tbsp. or two of olive oil. Then, pour in the pepper mixture, two cans of tomato sauce, one can of chicken broth and 2 sprigs of epazote. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the stove off. Remove the epazote if you can find it easily. Then, using a whisk, stir the pint of sour cream into the sauce.
NOW YOU’RE READY TO PUT THE DISH TOGETHER.
Break up the tortilla chips, if you haven’t already, and carefully fold them into the sauce. Using a large spoon, place about 1/2 of the tortilla mixture into the bottom of your dish, layer the pork next, then top with the rest of the tortilla sauce mixture. Finally, top with the shredded cheese.
NOTE: Queso Fresco is a mild, stretchy cheese. Mozzarella substitutes just fine. You’ll need about 2 C of shredded cheese total.
Bake in a 375 oven for 35 to 45 minutes until the cheese melts. Let it rest about 10 minutes and serve.
FOR THE SLAW:
- 1 Bag of slaw
- 1 small jicama, peeled and diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 red onion, sliced really thin
- Cherry tomatoes – sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 Red sweet pepper, diced
- 1/4C olive oil
- 1/4C rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. honey
- salt & pepper
In a large bowl mix the veggies. Whisk together the oil, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, red pepper flakes, chili powder, honey, salt and pepper. Toss with the veggies. Let sit for about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally and serve.