When I was still a single gal living in Virginia Beach there was this restaurant that me and my girlfriends would go to after church. It was a Mexican restaurant named “El Camino Real” on Indian River Rd. I think we went there every other week, it was a bit obsessive. One of my favorite dished that they had was Chicken Chilaquiles or “Chilaquiles de Pollo”.
Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish. Corn tortillas cut in quarters and fried are the basis of the dish. It is then topped with green or red salsa or mole. The mixture is then baked or simmers on the stove top until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. The dish is then topped queso fresco and/or sour cream, and it is served with refried beans.
Over the weekend I had a sudden craving for some chilaquiles. I decided I would kind of wing and do them my own way. This is what I came up with.
Let start with seasoning the chicken with cumin, chili powder, coriander salt and pepper.
In a dutch oven or heavy pot heat 1 tbs of olive oil at a medium high heat, add onions and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to become translucent.
Now add your chicken to the pot and brown evenly on all sides. This should take about 7 minutes or so.
Once your chicken is nice and brown add the diced tomatoes.
Add green and red salsa.
This reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George are in the coffee shop talking about how salsa is now the #1 requested condiment and how much it sounds like selzer.
It went something like this:
GEORGE: Why don’t they have salsa on the table?
JERRY: What do you need salsa for?
GEORGE: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.
JERRY: You know why? Because people like to say “salsa.” “Excuse me, do
you have salsa?” “We need more salsa.” “Where is the salsa? No salsa?”
GEORGE: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order
seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) “I wanted seltzer, not salsa.”
JERRY: “Don’t you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You
have the seltezer after the salsa!”
It is a little odd how often I can compare my own life’s moments to Seinfeld episodes…..moving on.
Now add some cilantro and;
a good squeeze of half a lime. Give it all a good stir and bring to a simmer.
Once it comes to a simmer, lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 mins.
Once the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate, remove the bones and shred the chicken using two forks.
Return to the pot and stir it in with the sauce.
Take a stack of tostadas and break them up, you will need about 3 ounces. You can use tortilla chip instead if you have them.
Start layering a 4×4 baking dish. First layer with 1/2 of the tortilla chips.
Second layer is half of the shredded chicken.
Then 1 cup of Mexican blend cheese.
And repeat….tortilla chips,
and 1 cup of Mexican blend cheese.
And in case you don’t have enough cheese, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of queso fresco over top, because it is yummy and it looks good. I am all about being superficial and looking good.
Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees. In 20 minutes this cheesy dish of deliciousness will emerge from your oven.
Cut yourself a fourth or a half, no one here will judge you.
Begin the heavenly decent upon your plate. Serve with Mexican rice and garnish with cilantro and avocado.
These turned out better then I expected. In fact I made them twice in one week. I made them first on a whim on a weeknight because it was an easy dish to put together and I loved it so much I did it again on Saturday, so I could take pictures and post it. I felt compelled to share it with you. What I loved about the dish was the different textures, some of the chips become soft and some keep a bit of a crunch. It was the perfect dish for a chilly afternoon.
- 3 chicken thighs, skinless bone-in
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp course salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup roma tomato, diced, about 3 tomatoes
- 1 cup mild red salsa
- 1/2 cup medium green salsa
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- juice from 1/2 a lime
- 1 chipotle pepper, minced (optional)
- 4 cups of broken tostadas or tortilla chips, about 3 ounces
- 2 cups Mexican blend cheese
- 1/4 cup queso fresco
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place chicken thighs in a medium sized bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Give the chicken a good rub and season evenly.
In a hot dutch oven or heavy pot heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a medium high heat. Add onions and garlic to the pot, cook for a few minutes until onions and garlic begin to become translucent. Add seasoned chicken to the pot, brown evenly on all sides, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Once the chicken is nice and brown add the diced tomatoes, salsas, cilantro and lime juice. (You can also toss in a chipotle pepper if you want to turn up the heat) Stir and bring to a simmer, once it comes to a simmer lower heat to medium and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to plate, remove bones then using two forks shred the chicken. If it is easier you can wait for chicken to cool and pull the chicken with your fingers. Return shredded chicken to pot and reheat.
To assemble: Take 4×4 square pan, start with a layer of half of the tortilla chips, then half of the chicken, followed by 1 cup of cheese Mexican blend cheese and repeat. You want to finish with chicken and cheese on top, sprinkle with queso fresco.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. When done serve immediatly and garnish with chopped cilantro and avocado.
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