J. and I were eating this for dinner tonight, and we began to talk about what we were eating as it disappeared with frightening speed from our bowls. He voiced best what I think many people find so compelling about chilaquiles: the texture is comforting, but the slowly fiery blurts of flavor surprise. Unlike mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese, there isn’t anything neutral about the dish.

I think that’s why I make it so often.


[Note: The wonderful thing about chilaquiles is that recipes for them are so malleable. I try to load mine with vegetables, especially since zucchini and yellow squash have been flooding my local market these past few weeks. The version below is one to which I’ve added squash, avocado, and fresh tomato.]

Chipotle Chilaquiles [adapted slightly from Rick Bayless’ recipe in Food & Wine]

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and 1/2 cup liquid reserved
2 chipotles in adobo
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, diced
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
8 ounces tortilla chips
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or queso añejo
1/3 cup sour cream
Sliced avocado and diced tomato, for garnish

In a blender, combine the tomatoes with their reserved 1/2 cup of liquid, the chipotles and the garlic; blend until almost smooth. In a very large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and squash. Cook over moderately high heat until browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat. Gently stir the tortilla chips and chicken into the sauce, making sure they are well coated. Top with the avocado, tomato and Parmesan cheese or queso añejo. Dollop the sour cream over the chilaquiles, and serve immediately.

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