Yesterday I posted a recipe for Tomatillo Salsa. Bright and tart, it is a delight with chips. But this salsa has a life beyond those chips. The “penetrating” ability of salsa means it can be a significant contributing ingredient. Chilaquiles is a comfort food gift to us from Mexico. Here the flavors are accelerated with an abundant use of this tomatillo condiment.

This recipe calls for chicken. You can substitute, say duck or turkey. Candidly, the tomatillo salsa flavor is quite dominant and can overshadow the flavors of those proteins. You won’t taste “the duck” the way you might in another dish. Still, using turkey in the days after Thanksgiving is an excellent way to turn leftovers into a prime dining experience.

This dish ages very well. Two or three or five days later, you just warm it up until you smell the tomatillos and you are ready to go. Enjoy it fresh on the weekend for its flavor and on a weeknight for offering you a quick yet excellent dinner to match your busy schedule. Beer or margarita? Your choice!


Green Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Yield: serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, split
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock, ideally homemade.
  • 3 ½ cups Tomatillo Salsa [see the separate post on this blog]
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 onion, sliced paper-thin
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 12 day-old corn tortilla
  • 1 cup grated manchego cheese
  • 1 cup grated panela cheese
  • ½ cup grated anejo cheese

Preparation:

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Place the breasts in the I stock, reduce the heat to moderate, cover and cook until the meat is tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool in the stock. When cool, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Strain and reserve the stock for another use.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the fresh tomatillo salsa, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, the onion and shredded chicken pieces.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the tortillas just about 5 seconds per side to soften, and then transfer to a large colander to drain.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 4-quart casserole or 6 to 8 individual casseroles (at the restaurant, we use small soup bowls).

Combine the cheeses in a mixing bowl.

To assemble the chilaquiles, spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Push the solids in the bowl of chicken and tomatillo sauce to the side so the liquids form a pool in the bottom. Dip all the softened tortillas in the pool to moisten. Layer one third of the moist tortillas over the cheese and top with half of the chicken mixture with its sauce. Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese over the chicken. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of tortillas on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving or unmolding.


Source: Mesa Mexicano by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger [Morrow, 1994]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑320