Chicken Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Salsa
This casserole preparation turns a classic Mexican breakfast into a favorite family dinner.
A virtually effortless tomatillo salsa is the foundation of this baked dish. Chilaquiles is often served at breakfast with tortilla chips and a fried egg. When made in a casserole it becomes a bit like a Mexican lasagne, layered with shredded soft tortillas instead of noodles. This is the perfect dish to make when you have leftover roast chicken, or you want to pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store but turn it into something more inspired. Speaking of inspired I first made this dish with Gail Simmons many years ago, and have adapted her recipe over the years as I have prepared it for my family often. I know you will prepare it often, too. The tomatillo salsa alone is worth putting on repeat!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; rimmed sheet pan; wooden spoon or rubber spatula; blender or food processor; large mixing bowl; casserole or baking dish; aluminum foil
Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients:
1 pound tomatillos, husk removed and quartered 2 medium white onions, roughly chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and halved
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil juice of two limes
½ bunch cilantro leaves
kosher salt to taste
3 cups shredded chicken
8 fajita-size flour tortillas, halved and cut into 1-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed, thinly sliced
½ bunch cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups tomatillo salsa
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1. Preheat the oven to broil.
2. First prepare the tomatillo salsa. Place the tomatillos, onions, jalapeños, and garlic on a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and broil for 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos are wilted and the onions have charred. Remove from the oven and carefully spoon the mixture into a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice, cilantro leaves, and some kosher salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you plan to blend the roasted tomatillos right after they come out of the oven, be sure to blend carefully on a low speed to let the heat and steam release, otherwise you'l have a mess on your hands. It's all about technique, not torture!
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and tortillas with the scallions, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatillo salsa and pour the mixture into a casserole. Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella and cotija cheeses.
"If you have trouble finding Cotija, a firm and crumbly Mexican cheese, consider replacing it with feta. Fresh mozzarella hand-shredded is heavenly, but the pre-shredded stuff in the bag is perfectly acceptable, too. Remember: technique, NOT torture!"
5. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, raise the oven temperature to 375°F, and bake for another 10 minutes.
ILOC tip: The dish may be prepared in advance through Step 4 and refrigerated, but then it should be covered tightly in plastic until Step 5 at which point foil must replace the plastic for baking.
6. Serve immediately.
Makes 6-8 servings.