Let me first say that my version of chilaquiles is not authentically Mexican nor is it my idea of the best version out there (I'm just getting to know this dish, after all). Here's a link to Dommy's great post on her veggie version: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
In the true spirit of the dish though, this was about using humble leftovers and random ingredients to make a meal that lifted my spirits at the end of a long, tiring week. The crazy stormy weather and bouts of hail were symbolic of (and no doubt contributed to) my dreary mood. Last night, I needed a home-cooked meal STAT!! One photo is below, as well as a link to several photos during the cooking process.
I really didn't feel like cooking but knew that getting in the kitchen would be good for me and that I didn't want to go out or order pizza delivery. Rummaging around, I realized that I still had some shredded pork shoulder from earlier in the week that I cooked to mimic carnitas.
I had marinated small cubes of pork shoulder in Mexican spices, browned, and braised slowly on the stovetop in water and a little chicken broth. Let the liquid reduce slowly til after about 2-3 hrs. it started to fry. I shredded up the meat w/ a fork and let the smaller bits get browned and toasty. Resulting meat was super tasty and porky, and the distinctive flavor was that I threw in a Mexican cinnamon stick during braising giving it a sweet, seductive nuance.
Having that pre-cooked pork was a time-saving building block. I then proceeded to saute some diced onion and minced garlic. When they hit the pan and their smells hit my nose and permeated the house, my spirits started to lift already. I then tossed in the pork and sauteed few min. Added some minced chipotle and adobo sauce and then tossed in a big can of crushed tomatoes. Added some dried oregano and let simmer gently while I prepped the chips.
I quartered some small corn tortillas and then fried in canola oil in my cast iron skillet, turning them once, til brown and crispy. Drained on paper towel. These take no time to fry at all and taste so good! I suppose you could use very thick storebought chips, but it won't be the same. While the chips were frying, I grated some cheese. I didn't have enough monterey jack on hand, so I used some additional Vermont sharp cheddar.
I believe that traditional chilaquiles recipes have you toss the chips into the sauce and then serve w/ condiments, but I chose to make more of a layered casserole. I saw Daisy Martinez on PBS make her version of chilaquiles w/ chicken and tomatillo salsa, and her lasagne-like creation looked very appealing! I layered thusly: meat sauce; chips (pressing down to flatten, don't worry if they break a little); meat sauce; cheese; repeat again starting w/ chips. Make as many layers as needed and finish w/ sauce and cheese on top...I had about 3 complete layers. I baked at 375F uncovered til warmed through and cheese was melted and bubbly.
Served w/ a slaw that I threw together based on what was in fridge: savoy cabbage, radishes, pineapple, grated carrot. Made a zippy dressing w/ some tamarind pulp, OJ, and EVOO. Sprinkled a little Penzeys chipotle powder on top, which was AWESOME w/ the pineapple.
Overall, I was totally satisfied w/ and comforted by this meal. The meat w/ tomatoes was so good w/ just the right heat from chipotle, and I loved the texture of the chips...soft in some parts but a little crunchy in others. The chilaquiles were a little drier than I'd like, so next time would add some chicken broth for a saucier consistency. Also would have loved to have some cold crema to dollop on top.
I can't wait to make this again changing up my meat, sauces, and cheese. Any comments or suggestions appreciated!