Chicken Chilaquiles

I love hanging out in the kitchen – any kitchen- with friends, and if I can learn a thing or two while socializing and catching up, that’s all the better.  On Monday afternoon my friend Fernanda taught me how to make chicken chilaquiles the same way her mother made them when Fernanda was a kid growing up in Mexico – what fun for me to watch someone make a dish she knows by heart. 

Fernanda knows chilaquiles so well she doesn’t measure a bloomin’ thing – not even for the sauce, which I gotta say, freaked me out a little.  I watched her like a hawk and quickly jotted down notes as she cooked and stirred and she must have said fifteen times, “don’t ask me again how much I added, I don’t know!”  It was a blast.  And delicious.  And my idea of a perfect afternoon.  : )

I loved it so much I not only ate two HUGE plates (she only had one) but I went home and made it for the DamFam for dinner last night.  THEY loved it so much they all had seconds and licked their plates and there wasn’t a single scrap left for a picture today.  So, because I wanted you to have this awesome recipe in your hot little hands in time for Cinco de Mayo this weekend, I went back to Sendik’s this morning, came home, and made it again.

Which means yeah, I’ve now eaten chicken chilaquiles three times in the past 24 hours.  Try them, you’ll be hooked too.  : )

CHICKEN CHILAQUILES
SERVES:  4
SOURCE:  Fernanda Perez

For the sauce:
4 dried guajilla chiles, seeded and deveined (leave a few seeds if you can handle the heat) **see note
2 – 3 sprigs cilantro
1/4 small white onion
5 small tomatillos; husked, cored, and cut in half
2 roma tomatoes, cored and cut in half (roma tomatoes are on sale)
2 c. water
Instant chicken bouillon granules
Kosher salt

To finish the dish:
Sour cream or creme fraiche, plus additional for serving (Daisy Brand or Shurfresh Brand are on sale)
The meat from about 1/2 a rotisserie chicken
Good quality, sturdy corn chips  (Matilda’s Brand are on sale) **see note
Queso Cotija (find this with the Mexican cheeses and whatever you do, don’t skip it!)

Place all the sauce ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cover pan;  reduce heat to medium and maintain a strong simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.   When the tomatillos turn from bright green to a very pale green and the chiles are very floppy, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Transfer the solids and a bit of the cooking liquid (a ladleful or two) to a blender container.  Cover loosely with the lid and slowly (SLOWLY) begin to blend the mixture.  Up the blender speed as the steam has had a chance to escape.  Add a bit more of the cooking liquid if the sauce seems too thick (it should have the consistency of tomato sauce).  Add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Continue to blend until completely pureed.  Taste sauce; adjust and correct seasonings.

Pour sauce into a very large skillet and place the pan over medium heat.  Gently warm the sauce.  Add a teaspoon or two of the sour cream (or creme fraiche) and whisk to incorporate thoroughly into the sauce.  Taste; add more sour cream if desired.  Add chicken and stir to combine; heat over medium until chicken is hot.  Just before serving, add in chips by the large handful (I start with two big handfuls).  Use a spatula to stir everything up and coat all the chips in the sauce.  See how it looks to you; add more chips if desired.  Keep in mind the chips will soak up the sauce and the more chips you add, the thicker your chilaquiles will be.  Also note: the longer this sits, the floppier the chips will become.  If you like them with a sturdier texture, serve straight away.

Place a large spoonful of chilaquiles on each serving plate.  Top with a generous sprinkle of the Queso Cotijo and a spoonful of sour cream (or creme fraiche).  Serve at once.

**NOTES:

Find these chiles hanging in clear plastic bags in the produce department near all the candies, nuts, and dried mushrooms.

Regarding the chips:  Fernanda deep fried her own before I got to her house.  She’s particular about the chips she uses; she doesn’t care for thin, commercial style chips.  I chose not to make my own and used Matilda’s Chips, which in addition to being a huge bargain also seem to be a little bit thicker than other brands.  Keep in mind: the thinner the chip, the floppier they will become in the sauce.  This is entirely a matter of personal preference.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | May 1st, 2012