(Mexican Tortilla Casserole)


This is my favorite Chilaquiles recipe, which I gleaned from a Mayan chef at the Melia Mayan hotel in Cozumel. It has a nice level of spice and a wonderful rich flavor blending the tomato-corn-cheese-chicken flavors beautifully. You will love it! You can make it a day ahead and then just bake it when ready.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 ½ cups poached chicken, coarsely chopped

12 tortillas, quartered ( or use 3 cups tortilla chips—broken ones are fine)

1 quart vegetable oil, for frying tortillas, optional

½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1 cup sour cream

1 quart Salsa Ranchero, recipe follows

¾ cup chicken stock, if needed

1. Prepare the Salsa Ranchero and heat the oil for frying if frying the tortillas.

2. Fry the tortillas, in hot (375° F) oil until crisp, if frying or use commercial corn chips or tostados. Or, this dish can be made with baked tortillas. If baking, preheat oven to 425° F and bake until dry and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes...wathcing carefully to not overbrown.

3. Oil the baking dish, then place the tortilla pieces in a three quart oblong casserole and spread the shredded chicken evenly over them. If the chicken is dry, add ¾ cup chicken stock. Cover with the Salsa Ranchero. Top with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake in a 350° F oven for about 15 minutes, until tortillas are softened and to evenly blend flavors.

To poach chicken: Stew 2 ¼ pounds bone-in skin-on chicken breast or part thighs in 1 quart chicken stock until done, then remove skin and bones and tear into chunks.

Salsa Ranchero

Yield: 1 quart

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes or 1, 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup chicken stock from cooking chicken breast

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt to taste

1. Stew tomatoes, onion and cilantro until tomatoes and onions are soft—about ten minutes.

2. Peel the tomatoes and puree in blender, food processor or food mill. Place garlic in oil in a deep frying pan and sizzle garlic, then add the rest of the ingredients and stew together for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then place on low heat until needed above.

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