Chilaquiles Esteban

Steve is obsessed with chilaquiles. He talks about them endlessly. And he’s been talking about making them forever. A staple Mexican comfort food, chilaquiles is essentially fried corn tortillas simmered in chili sauce and topped with lots of cheese. A sort of soft, saucy nacho dish. Chilaquiles are relatively simple to prepare. We used the stale leftover homemade tortillas from the last post, but you could use store bought just as well. But be sure to find good quality, thick tortillas. They’ll stand up better to the frying and the sauce.

On Saturday afternoon, after days of futzing around making homemade tortillas (and talking about chilaquiles more than anyone should),  Steve decided to jump into cooking his beloved dish, a la Steve—at the last minute. Luckily our dinner guest is more like family, so all we needed to do was to supply her with a cocktail while Steve put the finishing touches on the dish. Alas, the chilaquiles came together deliciously!

Lots of people add an additional protein like shredded chicken or fried chorizo. In this iteration, we added some chopped venison steak leftover from a dinner earlier in the week. Finally, garnishes. Chilaquiles is fine with no embellishments, but it’s  traditionally served with thin slices of onion, radishes and jalapeños. Some crema, sour cream, or plain yogurt, and probably a little more grated cheese, preferably a crumbly white queso and a fried egg, to gild the lily.  

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Chilaquiles Rojas

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

Serves 6

Sauce:

8 Guajillo or New Mexico chilies
1 28 oz can tomatoes
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 medium onion, cut into large dice
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Tortillas/Assembly:

vegetable oil for frying
12 6 inch corn tortillas (homemade or store bought)
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, fried chorizo, left over steak, or other meat (optional)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or mild feta
1 cup shredded white cheddar
6 large eggs
Finely chopped white onion (or thinly sliced green onions)
Thinly sliced radishes
Chopped fresh cilantro
Crema, sour cream, or yogurt
Sliced jalapeño
Lime wedges
Preparing the sauce:

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chills, break them into large pieces and place them in a large enough bowl to cover with 2 cups boiling water. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes (do not discard the soaking liquid).

In the container of a blender, add the tomatoes, the rehydrated peppers, garlic, jalapeño, onion and paprika, along with a cup of the soaking liquid from the peppers. Purée until you can no longer see pieces of chili pepper skins. It should be very smooth.

Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add purée to the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and partially cover the pot while the sauce cooks and thickens, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.[Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead, kept in the fridge. Be sure to reheat it before using.]

Tortillas/Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy pan or skillet at a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees (we guessed, but you should be sure about the heat and a deep fry thermometer is very useful here).

Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut tortillas into quarters or sixths and carefully add them to the hot oil one at a time until you have enough in the pan to cover the surface of the oil without the chips overlapping. Fry until golden brown and then remove to the paper towels to drain. Season with salt.

Once the chips are fried, add them to a large mixing bowl and toss them with a cup of the chili sauce until they are well coated. Add half to a casserole or large baking dish and sprinkle with half the cheese. Add remaining chips, the remaining sauce and the rest of the cheese.

Cover the casserole with foil and place into hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the oven to broil. Place the casserole under the broiler for 6-8 minutes or until the cheese getting toasty brown spots. Slice into 6 portions.

Plate the chilaquiles and top with a fried or scrambled eggs.  Top with an array of sliced radishes and jalapeño, with chopped red, white, or green onions, crumbled fresco queso or feta, and a little drizzle of crema, sour cream, or yogurt.

Jerusalem Artichoke: Jerusalem Artichoke Chips w/ Rosemary Salt

The Mariquita Farms “Mystery Boxes” (actually, they’re really big bags) we buy twice a month are always filled with beautiful, in-season veggies in an extraordinary variety. The fun of the mystery is that you really don’t know what you’re going to get before you show up to grab the bag off the back of the farm’s delivery truck. And from time to time, we get something that we’ve never considered buying but have always been curious to try.

Such was the case with a recent bag that included a lot of Jerusalem Artichokes. We’ve seen them around. They’re knobby little tubers that look sort of like ginger root or galangal, have the texture of apple or Jíca

ma when raw and make for a delicious puree when boiled like a potato. Cooked, they have an earthier, sweeter flavor than potato, which is to say you get more of the mineral flavor of the soil they’re grown in. They aren’t a starchy veggie, so you don’t get the same fluffy, dry mouth feel you get from potato. Instead, they’re a bit waxy when cooked through. Eaten raw, they’re crisp and a little sweet thanks to their high fructose content. They’re delicious as an addition to your dinner salad.

Nobody knows how the plant got its name. This member of the sunflower family (hence the alternative name ‘sunchoke’ or ‘sun choke’) isn’t an artichoke, and it doesn’t come from the Middle East (it’s a North American native species). Aboriginal North Americans were cultivating and eating it when the first Europeans landed on our shores. It made its way to Europe in the early 1600’s and was quickly adopted on the continent. That’s about all we know about its earliest culinary uses. The bulbs are loaded with potassium and iron and they’re low carb/low glycemic diet-friendly thanks to their high inulin content.

We adapted a bon appétit recipe for Fried Sunchoke Chips with Rosemary Salt by toasting thin slices of Jerusalem Artichoke in the oven on an oiled sheet pan before sprinkling them with the herbaceous salt. We recommend getting them as thin as possible so that they dry as they brown. Our first go at oven roasting produced a softer chip because of the thickness of the slices, but they were sweet and delici

ous all the same.

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Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Chips sprinkled with Rosemary Salt

1 lemon

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Mix the salt and rosemary together in a small bowl, set aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of it in a bowl filled with fresh water. Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes until very clean; place them in the bowl of acidulated water. Thinly slice each tuber, about 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick, or as thin as possible. Empty the water from the bowl and dry. Add the sliced tubers to the bowl and squeeze the other half of lemon over the top. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Evenly place the slices on the baking sheets in one layer, do not over lap. Lightly sprinkle the rosemary salt over the slices and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes; then pull the pans out of the oven and begin to remove the browned and crispy ones from the pan. Rotate the pans and place them back in the over for 3-5 minutes. Continue to check the tuber slices and remove the crispier ones and place the lighter colored ones back in the oven. This will take up to 30-40 minutes. Consolidate the slices to one pan when there is room available. Sprinkle more rosemary salt over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.