I had a really good mentor when I started my B&B. Sue and her husband Dick had been in the business for quite a few years before we decided to start an inn, and they really had the experience to share on what to do and what not to do. Sue and I are still best friends. We share a lot, including guests and recipes. She is my queen of real Mexican cooking, and after nine years, she is still my mentor.
Many years before opening an inn, Sue and Dick had an adventure of sorts, living in a small village outside Puerto Vallarta, named Quimixta, (kay mees ta). There was no road to get there – it’s only accessible by boat. No electricity…no phones, but many wonderful people willing to take on these two crazy gringos who spoke no Spanish at all, but were willing to learn. Learn they did, for nearly four years, and Sue also learned to cook like the locals. She had to – there was no running to the grocery store in Quimixto. I went there on my last trip to Mexico. They have electricity, and phones, but still no road
The purpose of this post is to teach you how to make Chilaquiles, or Chili Quiles. I got my recipe from Sue, but having experienced quiles first hand on my trips to Mexico, I have learned there is no one right way to make them, as it is as diverse as any common recipe can be, and there are as many variations as there are abuelas (Mexican grandmas), that make it. This recipe is just a place to start, a home base, so to speak. One picture of the quiles is Sues, and the other is what I could find that look like mine. Next time I make quiles I will take pics and repost.
My last quiles experience in Mexico was at a restaurant on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta. The waiter seemed very pleased that I knew what I was ordering, and that it wasn’t “Norte Americana” breakfast. It was very different than my quiles, being whole thick Mexican style tortilla chips covered with chicken meat in a red tomato based cream sauce with onions and queso fresca, (that crumbled white Mexican cheese), and an egg over easy on the side with beans Muy Delicioso!
My recipe has evolved, is never exactly the same, and will often include left overs. We serve it with eggs to order. It can be made the night before, refrigerated and cut up to individual servings, or reheated in the oven and served as any other casserole at the table. Remember – this recipe is your starting point, so be creative. Quiles are like hash, or goulash in other cultures – just mishmash of what ever you have on hand.
Chilaquiles (chi lah kee lays)
aka Chili Quilies
I have put the changes I made to Sue’s recipe in italic and parenthesis.
Prepare the night before serving – must refrigerate to get it to set right.
Saute about 12 to 15 corn tortillas in a skillet with oil until slightly crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside. (Instead…I use about 4 cups corn tortilla chips, smashed down a bit. Stale ones are ok, in fact preferable.)
Saute in oil the meat of your choice – 1 to 3/4 lb of meat – shredded chicken, ground beef, pork or any combination
(1 lb Louis Rich Turkey Sausage is what I use, but I will always add leftovers – chicken, turkey, beef steaks – if I have them.)
When meat is done, add…
1 medium onion diced
1 bell pepper diced, red is pretty, but green, orange, yellow no matter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can diced tomatos – (I leave tomato out and add 1 package of taco seasoning)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped green chili (can chili is ok, but not best)
a dash (or more) each to taste of: black peper, oregano and cumin
…and saute until onions are nearly clear. Add one cup of bullion of choice – (I used vegetable), to meat/veggie mixture. Reduce liquid slightly, add tortillas, mix well, and add up to a cup more water if nec. to bring the liquid level above the tortillas.
Cook on low until liquid is absorbed and put in a casserole dish when done.
Top with 2 cups shredded cheese.
Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, slice out appropriate portion, place on a plate, microwave to heat through and serve with fried eggs on top. Garnish with advocado, sour cream and/or queso fresca. You can add cilantro too, but I hate fresh cilantro, so I don’t.
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