RED CHILE & CHORIZO CHILAQUILES
I love chilaquiles. In fact, I crave them so often that I drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning at least once a month to feast on one of my favorite versions from Primavera at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Farmers Market. That’s what you have to do if you’re going to try to beat the hordes of people that line up for this delicious Mexican breakfast dish every weekend.
We’ve all had huevos rancheros at one crappy diner or another at some point in our lives, but for those that have never tried authentic chilaquiles, it’s understandable how the concept could sound a bit bizarre. Admittedly, the idea of crispy tortilla chips drowned in a sea of flavorful red chile sauce seems a bit unorthodox. I mean who likes soggy nachos anyways? But for those that simply can’t wrap their head around the idea of a somewhat soggy nacho, I’d encourage you to think outside of Latin American cuisine to another ethnic group that also marries sauce and carbohydrates so beautifully — the Italians.
I an effort to convey the craveable aspects of this dish, I’d encourage you think of chilaquiles as you would the perfect bowl of pasta. Here, the thick-cut (preferably homemade) tortilla chips play the role of al dente pasta that has a bit of soft crunch and resiliency left to it, but has also absorbed some of the delicious sauce that surrounds it. Topped with spicy chorizo, tangy Mexican crema, crumbled cotija cheese and ripe avocado and you have a breakfast dish that will set you up for a whole days worth of activities…or an early afternoon nap.
RED CHILE & CHORIZO CHILAQUILES
Making chilaquiles at home, likes eggs Benedict, can be a bit of an undertaking for the average home cook. It’s for this very reason that good preparation and organization is a must. Do yourself a favor and make the chile sauce the night before. If you opt to make your own tortilla chips (which I highly recommend), this too can be accomplished ahead of time to alleviate the work load on the day of service. For me, chorizo and breakfast are synonymous, but if pork isn’t your thing or you find it too greasy you can always use shredded chicken or keep it vegetarian for an equally delicious plate of food. Here I present a version with a sunny-side up egg, but serving these chilaquiles alongside some fluffy scrambled eggs is delicious (that’s how Primavera does it). Finally, if you’re interested in making this dish but are planning on only serving two, refrigerate or freeze half of the sauce and warm the remainder in a skillet along with half of the amount of chips.
- 8 medium (2 ounces total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted), drained
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided use)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
- 8 ounces (8 to 12 loosely packed cups, depending on thickness) thick homemade-style corn tortilla chips (such as the ones you buy at a Mexican grocery)
- 1/2 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, sauteed until just cooked and broken up with the back of a wooden spoon
- 4 eggs
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- About 1/3 Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Toast the chile pieces a few at a time in a dry heavy skillet or on a griddle heated over medium, pressing them flat against the hot surface with a metal spatula until they are aromatic, about 19 seconds per side. In a bowl, rehydrate the chiles for 20 minutes in hot tap water to cover; place a small plate on the top to keep the chiles submerged.
- Using a pair of tongs, transfer the rehydrated chiles to a food processor or blender. Measure in 1 cup of water, add the tomatoes and garlic and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven or a large (12-inch) deep skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chile puree and stir until reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, anywhere from 7-12 minutes. Add the broth, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Season with sugar and about 1 scant teaspoon. You should have about a generous 4 cups of brothy sauce.
- Just before finishing the chilaquiles, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the eggs and cook on one side just until set, sunny-side up.
- Raise the heat under the seasoned sauce to medium-high. Stir in the chips, turning to coat all of them well. Let the sauce return to a simmer, cover and turn off the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes (no longer).
- Uncover the pot and check that the chips have softened nicely—they should be a little chewy, but not mushy. Spoon onto warm plates. Transfer an egg to each portion, crumble on the warm chorizo and drizzle each portion with the crema. Scatter on some thinly sliced red onion, crumbled cotija cheese, sliced radishes, diced avocado and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.