The name chilaquiles is derived from a Nahuatl word meaning "in a salsa of chiles."  It is sometimes nicknamed "a broken-up old sombrero" because it contains broken pieces of dried tortillas.  It is a tasty way to use old, dried-up tortillas along with other leftovers.  Doņa Martha makes it as a breakfast dish.  She makes just the basic dish of tortilla scraps in a chile colorado salsa and leaves it up to each person to add what ever they want to go with it -- refried beans, scrambled eggs, leftover what ever from the fridge, etc.  I like mine with whole (not refried) beans.  I think it is especially good with a smoked pork chop.  You can find many more elaborate recipes on the internet including layered casseroles.

Doņa Martha begins by making a basic chile colorado salsa using de-seeded pasilla chiles, a quarter of a large onion and a clove of garlic.  After the chiles and onion have been simmered until soft, they are pureed with the garlic.

Normally this dish is made with stale, dried tortilla leftovers.  Last night Martha forgot to leave the leftover tortillas on the counter to dry, so when she took them out of the fridge this morning, they were too soft.  Unless the tortillas are completely dry and hard, they will dissolve in the salsa leaving a pasty mess -- totally wrong texture.  So she tore the tortillas into pieces and fried them in a bit of vegetable oil until they were crisp and firm.  Then she added the salsa and simmered briefly before adding a toping of graded cheese.


When she makes chilaquiles using well dried tortilla pieces, she reverses the mixing process -- she brings the salsa to a simmer in the pan and then stirs in the tortillas chips.

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