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My Mexican Kitchen: Vegetarian Chilaquilles in Roasted Salsa Verde

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Home Cooking 10

My Mexican Kitchen: Vegetarian Chilaquilles in Roasted Salsa Verde

Dommy! | Jan 17, 2006 06:01 PM

In general… it can be hard to make Mexican food vegetarian. It’s kinda like Thai food with fish sauce. A lot flavor from Mexican foods comes with Lard and protein based broths… I can’t even imagine making my black beans without that spoonful of Lard… Mole and other stewing salsas tastes worlds better when cut with chicken broth. So, when BF told me we were going to a Burrito Party hosted by a Vegetarian, at first, I started to wrack my brain for the perfect dish to bring…. But then I realized I actually was already planning to make the perfect dish… For next up in my Mexican Adventures was Chilaquilles in a Roasted Tomatillo Salsa from Rick Bayless’s Book: Salsas that Cook.

This is the first Mexican Cookbook I’ve decided to dive into. It starts off with recipes for several essential Mexican Salsas. Then, it goes into different things to make with said salsas. While I would LOVE to cook through the book, some of the dishes are rather ‘loosely Mexican’, so I’m sticking with the ones I KNOW would come out of my Grandmothers’Kitchens… And there is no dish that exemplifies Mexican Cooking like Chilaquilles.

Chilaquilles is so many things. Comfort Food, Cheap Food, a Hangover cure. An ingenious breakfast/lunch dish developed to use up last night’s stale tortillas and salsa, it’s super easy and tastes of course, AMAZING. Even the most upscale Mexican Breakfast Buffets I’ve had in the Capital (Formal Breakfast is an obsession in Mexico…) have always had at least one tray at Chilaquilles…

The first thing you need in Chilaquilles is… OLD Tortillas. I take my tortillas and leave them out for a few hours. Then, I cut them into quarters and fry them in a cast iron skillet (Yes, this was the christening of the Christmas Skillet! :) ) Thee way to you can tell if the chips are going to get crisp enough is when edges turn golden. Then flip over and fry the other side till you see even more brown… Drain on a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Once cooled (Now at this stage they maybe a little chewy!), place in a large bowl to dry out (Do not salt!!)

This particular recipe called for a red sauce, but I prefer tangy green sauces with my Chilaquilles. That is the beauty of this book, you can pretty much sub any of the sauces and still have some YUMMY food! Also the the Salsas are all pretty much the same. You take your key Salsa flavor, Tomatillo, Dried Chiles, what ever, and then roast them on a skillet or broiler. Then you roast Onion and Garlic in the Oven until they both turn golden. Let them all cool and put the garlic and onion in the food processor and then pulse until they combine. Then add the main ingredients and pulse those until well blended. Add Cilantro if you like and salt to taste (And always salt on the heavy side when preparing a salsa too cook with).

For this Salsa, the key ingredients were Tomatillos and Serrano Chiles. This Salsa was SPICY!! But don’t freak out. In Chilaquilles, you take an equal portion of Salsa and cut it with Chicken Broth (Or in this case, Veggie Broth), so the heat does get tamed!!

And now I was ready to assemble my Chilaquilles. I started by taking my big Le Cruset and sautéing Onion. Then added in chopped Italian zucchini (You could also use Mexican Zucchini) and stirred until soft. I combined two cups of salsa and two cups of veggie broth, salted it again (Veggie broth tends to me milder in salt than Chicken) before pouring it in. After tossing in some Baby Spinach, you bring it a boil and then back down and start stirring in your tortilla chips! Make sure the chips gets coated evenly and heated through, so they are almost floppy. If you fried them right, they should not fall apart as they start to go limp and they should soak up most of the salsa..

Chilaquilles are best served right away. Drizzled with Mexican Crema, Anejo/Cojita Cheese and fresh diced white onion on top. And these were indeed EXCELLENT!! The salsa was rich and tangy like I like with the smokiness of the roasting very apparent. Everyone at the party just gobbled them up, some of them being able to place the roasted flavor.

And there you have it… a Vegetarian version of Chilaquilles… and yet another Mexican recipe success for me! :) Although you carnivores can probably see how easy it would be to add some Shredded Chicken or Ground Beef into the final step (When stirring the chips together) and for you Veggies who are taking note of this recipe… be sure that when you buy your tortillas... they do not contain lard… You see!!! I told you us Mexicans can be sneaky about these things… ;)

--Dommy!

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