Chilaquiles Rojos

The other night, Burrito Lover and I spontaneously decided we would “go on a date.” Despite the fact that we live together, have a dog together, are planning a wedding together, and basically do everything together, gotta squeeze in some impromptu rrrromance, yas?

Sometimes life just gets a lil extra cray and you really have to make a more deliberate effort to carve out quality time. Often, we head to a new spot for munchies and libations and other times we pack a picnic for the park. If it’s been a particularly chaotic week (as in…full of near miss grease fires, lunch rushes, and yams flying back and forth at lightning speed) we just park our rears on the couch, cook up something comforting, and pop open a bottle of Zin while we indulge in the gentle lull of Netflix.

On this particular date night, we ravenously crawled into an Italian restaurant called Pizzaiolo (started by Chez Panisse alum Charlie Hallowell) for the most incredible wood-fired oven pizza and cornmeal crusted sand dabs. We then hopped over to Fenton’s for some of Oakland’s most delicious ice cream- they’ve been serving up cones for 122 years! We took our dessert and strolled around the town after dark, window shopping and hashing out the week behind us. It was…sorta just…magic. The whole evening was perfect from start to finish and I felt just so lucky. And while I was wiping the espresso chip from Burrito Lover’s lip it sort of dawned on me how important these moments are. We spend so much of our hours and days on this earth grinding away at work or being pelted with racist garbage or hearing the upchuck-inducing sounds of hate speech on the television and in times like these, I hope I can continue to stop and smell the roses. Or the butter pecan. Whichever comes first.

This dish is best served with someone you want to share with. But like not too much, because each forkful is tastier than the next. If you’re trying to be polite and give the other person the bigger half, there is no room for that in my kitchen, or in this recipe.

Chilaquiles are a Mexican comfort food dish, traditionally made with crispy sliced corn tortillas that swim in a saucy red or green bath until pliable, soft, and scrumptious. We had a TON of chips leftover from a recent party, and because nothing is wasted in Mexican culture, chilaquiles graced our table. And they can grace the hell out of yours, too.

Revel in the smoky chipotle flavor, the zesty lime tang, and the salty, creamy cotija. The tortillas will gently wilt under the heat of the sauce, rendering them the absolutely perfect texture to hold onto all them toppings and allow for very easy fork-stabbing. Chilaquiles; because why not eat nachos with a fork?

Capsaicin, which you can’t see but is actually hiding inside that jalapeno and chipotle pepper, has an extremely long list of health and nutrition benefits. That endorphin rush (aka AHHHHHHHH HELP) feeling you endure after you pop one of these spicy gems in your mouth actually reduces your perception of pain. Crazy, eh? It’s for this very reason hot peppers are used to relieve all sorts of arthritis aches, inflammatory conditions, and skin diseases that flare up with irritation and itching. Not only that, the carotenoids and flavonoids inside the peppers help our bodies fight free radicals and minimize healthy cell damage.

So feast your eyes, your stomach, and toast to finding comfort in a world of uncertainty.

Chilaquiles Rojos

Serves: 2-3 (depending on stomach size)

  • 1 1/2 cups ready-made salsa
  • 1 large red tomato, chopped coarsely
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped coarsely (you can find a can of “chipotle peppers in adobo” in almost any supermarket)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped coarsely (take out seeds if you don’t like spicy)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped coarsely
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil
  • 3 large handfuls of tortilla chips
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese (can also use feta or shredded pepper jack)
  • Green onions, sliced for garnish
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • 1/2 lime
  1. Place salsa, tomato, chipotle pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and red onion in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the tomato/salsa mixture is ready, pour it into the heated skillet and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until it begins to thicken. The sauce is ready when you dip a spoon into it and it doesn’t easily slide off.
  3. While the sauce is thickening, heat another tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then pour into the hot pan. Fry until the egg white sets, but the yolk is still runny (about 2-3 minutes). Do not jiggle the pan or touch the eggs until they are done! You can place a glass cover over the egg while it cooks, if you feel like speeding up the process…just keep an eye on it. Repeat for all eggs.
  4. When eggs are done and sauce is thickened, take them both off the heat. Add tortilla chips to the sauce and stir until the chips start to wilt. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce/tortilla mixture, squeeze the lime over the dish, then slide eggs onto pan. Best served alongside someone you don’t care to argue over the last bite with 😉

 

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