Sunday, July 21, 2024

Reinvent Mexico’s classic breakfast with these delicious chilaquiles recipes

Normally, I’d preface the recipe with a long story about the history of the dish we’re about to make, but I was inspired by Google’s daily doodle to write this particular piece. So, instead of a history lesson, I just want to share my favorite, alternative recipe for the powerhouse of a dish that is chilaquiles.

Chilaquiles is a top tier breakfast/brunch dish in which you, on purpose, make your tortilla chips soggy with salsa in the pan before adding the finishing touches. Chilaquiles are such a ubiquitous dish in Mexico yet often misunderstood in other parts of the world. I’m very happy to see this dish finally gaining some steam. Let’s get soggy!

Fresh totopos
Sometimes, you just need a bowl soggy chips for breakfast. Here’s how you make them delicious soggy chips. (Roberto Carlos Roman/Unsplash)

Bonus recipe for my favorite plate-finisher, candied jalapenos, otherwise known as cowboy candy. Trust me, you’re going to want this in your cooking arsenal. 

Alternative chilaquiles recipes:

1: Jamón Serrano and Cowboy Candy


Tortilla Chips: 

6 cups store-bought tortilla chips


6-7 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, chopped

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Juice of one lime

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste


100g Jamón Serrano, thinly sliced and rolled up tightly to make this dish seem less sloppy

1/2 cup candied jalapeños (recipe below)

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 cup lime crema (2 parts sour cream, 1 part lime juice)

One of two fried eggs (optional)

Jamón serrano
Fuse Mexico and Spain by adding a little Jamón Serrano as a topping to your chilaquiles. (Wiley Shaw/Unsplash)


Make the Sauce:

In a blender, combine the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, and chicken broth. Blend until smooth.

Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Pour the blended sauce into the skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and deepens in color. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Assemble the Chilaquiles:

Add the tortilla chips to the skillet with the sauce. Toss gently to coat the chips evenly with the sauce. Depending on how soggy you prefer chilaquiles, cook for an additional 1-3 minutes to let your chips become the saucy mess they were destined to be.

Transfer the sauced chips to a serving platter or individual plates.

Add Toppings: 

Top the chilaquiles with rolled up slices of Jamón Serrano, candied jalapeños, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced red onion.

Add slices of avocado circling the edge of the plate and drizzle with lime crema.
Add the fried egg if using on the very top. 

2. Candied Jalapeños (Cowboy Candy) 


1-pound fresh jalapeños, sliced into rings

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Fresh jalapeño pepper
Xalapeño pro tip: The secret is to get fresh jalapeños, for flavor and spice. (Philip Larking/Unsplash)


Prepare the Jalapeños:

Wear gloves to protect your hands from the jalapeño heat.

Slice the jalapeños into 1/4-inch thick rings. Set aside.

Make the Syrup:

In a large pot, combine the granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, cumin, mustard seed, and ground ginger.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Candy the Jalapeños:

Add the sliced jalapeños to the pot, then stir to coat them in the syrup.

Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the jalapeños have just begun to soften and turn a darker green.

Jar the Candied Jalapeños:

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeño rings to clean, sterilized jars, packing them in tightly.

Pour the hot syrup over the jalapeños, ensuring they are fully submerged and leaving about 1/4-inch headspace at the top of the jar.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and seal with sterilized lids and bands.

Candied jalapeños are not just perfect for these chilaquiles but add a sweet and spicy kick to burgers, sandwiches, nachos, or even as a topping for spicy tuna crispy rice (my version of spicy tuna crispy rice coming soon!).

Did you enjoy these alternative chilaquiles recipes? Did you try changing the recipe? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Stephen Randall has lived in Mexico since 2018 by way of Kentucky, and before that, Germany. He’s an enthusiastic amateur chef who takes inspiration from many different cuisines, with favorites including Mexican and Mediterranean.


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