Due to the distance, and recent influx of danger, my travels to Mexico have been few and far between. The last time I visited the country was for Jenny's, one of my best friends, bachelorette party in May 2007. Prior to that, some college friends and I spent a couple of nights "spring breaking" in Acapulco in 2002. And beyond that, from the time I was a sophomore in high school to the weekend before I left for college, I spent at least one night per week bar-hopping (and drinking underage) in Ciudad Juarez, the sizeable city located just 10 minutes from my childhood home in El Paso (Texas). Interestingly enough (or horrifying, depending on how you look at it), underage jaunts to Juarez is a teenage "right of passage" where I grew up.
Since she knew that her boyfriend would be deploying in April, my sister asked that I accompany her to Maggie & Brian's July "destination wedding" in Los Cabos, Mexico. From July 1 through July 5, Leila and I had the best time with one another which, in all honesty, came as a bit of a surprise; the last time we traveled together (on a family trip to South America in December), we fought like two rival female gang members. On this trip, however, our battle-free days were spent relaxing, eating, drinking, sunning, and enjoying every aspect of Mexican culture and hospitality. For us El Paso girls, this country is, truly, our adopted "second home."
*All of my photos from this vacation can be viewed on Flickr
While everything we ate and drank in Los Cabos was spectacular, one dish, in particular, truly stood out among the rest: shredded-chicken chilaquiles, which I ordered for breakfast on our first morning at the hotel. Not familiar with chilaquiles? Here's a visual: enchiladas in the form of a casserole/served in a bowl.
If there's one thing that I can confidently say about myself, it would be this: I reign superior as the gringa "enchilada queen." On my return flight to New York, I wondered, "If I think I'm so great at making enchiladas, then I think it's high time to try my hand at chilaquiles."
Having been inspired by the sunny-side-up egg-topped pizza that I recently had at ABC Kitchen, I decided to incorporate this twist in to, or should I say "atop," my own chilaquiles recipe.
Recipe: Los Cabos-inspired chilaquiles
*In order to make this recipe as I did, you will need an oven-proof French onion soup bowl, approximately 4-5" wide x 2.5-3" tall.
- 3 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet white-onion, such as Maui or Vidalia (optional)
- 1/2 cup shredded mild-cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup of red or green enchilada sauce - or your favorite salsa
- 2 tablespoons of chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 or 1 cup of cooked and shredded chicken, preferably white breast meat (optional)
- 1 egg (optional)
In a small saucepan, add oil and warm over medium heat, approximately 2-minutes. One at a time, add corn tortillas to oil, allowing a 30-second simmer on each side, using tongs to flip. Remove tortilla from oil, and place on paper-towel-topped plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been cooked in oil. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine enchilada sauce or salsa and chicken/vegetable broth and stir. Pour sauce on to a clean dinner plate. One at a time, dip each side of the tortilla in to the sauce, remove, then set aside. Each tortilla should be moist, but not dredged.
Using your hands, or a knife, rip each tortilla in to ample bite-sized pieces, keeping each pile separated (thus 3 piles). Set aside.
Evenly disperse approximately one-teaspoon of the sauce in to the bottom of the oven-proof French onion soup bowl. This will prevent the tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the bowl, thus making clean-up a bit easier! Next, evenly disperse the torn shreds from one tortilla atop the teaspoon of sauce. Top the tortilla shreds with the following ingredients, packing with light force: 1 tablespoon chopped onion (optional), 1/4 cup shredded chicken (optional), 2-tablespoons shredded cheese, and 2-tablespoons of sauce. This process is similar to making lasagna. Repeat until all tortillas, cheese, onions and chicken have been used. Pour remaining sauce on top of the casserole.
Line a cookie sheet with foil then place constructed bowl atop. There should be approximately 1/4' of room left in the bowl, from the top of the ingredients to the rim of the bowl. If not, pack with gentle force.
*Optional step: As if you were making a sunny-side-up egg, crack egg on top of casserole; do not attempt to scramble.
Bake in a 425-degree oven for 13-14 minutes. Enjoy!