I fell in love at first bite when Donna first took me to her own all-time favorite restaurant, El Charro, the famous family-owned Mexican cafe in my birthplace, Tucson Arizona. When Donna visits her family there, they’ve been known to stop at El Charro directly from the airport, and ever since visiting there for the first time in 2003, I can see why. This is both as regionally authentic as it gets AND cooking from the heart of family traditions. And it’s now my favorite, too. (Seriously. It’s that good.)
We had started a new tradition not long before the visit photographed here: every visit would include a “birthday party” for me, so as to make up for some lost time – hence the sombrero of honor and carrot cake with candle. Donna’s favorite dish is carne seca, a dish that involves slowly drying beef in the open air (a tradition that is often a matter of contention for the Tucson health department). I’d be hard pressed to choose only one favorite, but it would probably be a toss-up between one of several varieties of enchiladas or their chilaquiles.
Since we just shared some of our own enchiladas, I’d love to pass on this very easy, very flexible recipe for chilaquiles, which happens to be a great fit for a Meatless Monday. This is also a bit of a hat tip to our former incarnation as Fab Frugal Food, as it is extremely inexpensive and a great way to use up old, stale tortilla chips.Â I seem to always have extra open bags of chips lying around, as my kiddo loves them, and yet doesn’t understand the concept of “No, we already have 3 bags at home PLUS one in the car,” when we are at Trader Joe’s and she sees her favorite kind and has to have them RIGHT NOW. Ah, life with a wee foodie.
Anyway, like I said, this is endlessly flexible – it’s wonderful with all manner of vegetables added.Â Use more or less egg as desired; same goes for enchilada sauce, same goes for cheese. This is but a (very tasty) template!
4-6 cups corn tortilla chips (preferably stale), broken up a bit but not crushed into crumbs
1 4 ounce can green chiles
2-3 cups cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 1/2 to 2 cups enchilada sauce
1 cup corn
1/2 cup scallion, finely chopped (white and green parts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently break up the chips by pressing down on the bag – you’re not trying to break them down too much, just getting them more compact so they layer well. Lay the chips in one large or two smaller casserole dishes. Beat eggs with a fork and stir the can of green chiles into the egg mixture. Pour over chips as evenly as possible.
Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs and chips, reserving a handful or two for the very top. Pour the enchilada sauce (I used a 12 ounce bottle of Trader JosÃ©’s, quite tasty), then add the corn in an even layer. Top withÂ reserved cheese and bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly. Sprinkle scallions on top and serve!
Other takes on this classic:
— posted by Anne