I first discovered chilaquiles when my former roommate, Christina, brought me to Gallo Blanco in downtown Phoenix. (Julia, remember that place?) Basically, it’s a pile of meat and/or veggies served over fried tortillas, topped with a lot of sauce, and possibly crema or eggs. It’s pretty flexible, really. I decided to make mine in the style of Gallo Blanco’s, with a layer of sauteed veggies between whole corn tortillas (instead of with quartered tortillas, which is the traditional way). You can use red or green salsa, or you can use mole. I have never made mole, but Colin and I both love it, so I decided to give it a shot.
I’m very glad I did.
For anyone uninitiated into the wonders of mole, mole is a complex, sweet-savory sauce typically made with chiles, dark chocolate, nuts, raisins, and spices. (Really, though, the ingredient list varies wildly from recipe to recipe.) It works on chicken and salmon particularly well.
I wasn’t about to half-ass my first attempt at mole, so I went down to Food City, the nearest Mexican supermarket, for legit tortillas, cotija, and more kinds of chiles than I’d ever dreamed of. The recipe I used called for ancho, guajillo, and chipotle chiles.
This was also my first time cooking with tomatillos. They’re so cute!
The most notable tweak I made was to double the amount of chocolate called for, making it 10 oz. I had used half a bag of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips, but after taste testing I decided to dump in the rest. It was a good decision taste-wise, if not health-wise. Other than that, I stuck pretty close to this recipe, aside from adding a bit more spice here and there, and swapping butter for lard and veg broth for chicken. Using an immersion blender simplified this recipe considerably.
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 3 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1 dinner roll, torn into pieces
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
- 5 tomatillos, cut in half crosswise
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 head garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice berries
- 5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat 2 cups chicken broth in a saucepan until it begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Pour broth into a blender.
- Toast guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, and chipotle chiles in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until warm and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the blender with chicken broth.
- Toast dinner roll pieces and tortilla strips in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the blender with chicken broth and chiles
- Allow the chiles and toasted bread and tortillas to soak, fully submerged, in the chicken broth until softened, about 10 minutes. Blend the mixture until smooth.
- Cook tomatoes and tomatillos in a dry skillet on medium-high heat until soft and blackened, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place tomatoes in the blender with the chile puree.
- Melt lard in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, garlic, peanuts, raisins, cumin seeds, thyme, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice berries; cook and stir until onions are soft and golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and other whole spices; add onion mixture to the blender with the chile-tomato mixture and blend until smooth.
- Pour chile puree into a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in chocolate chicken broth, sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a simmer; stir until chocolate is melted and sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, I toasted tortillas in the oven at 250 for about 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through. I sauteed up some zucchini, onions, and bell peppers. (I meant to add black beans, too, but forgot.) Then I layered the veggies between two tortillas, topped the stack with mole, avocado, cotija cheese, sour cream, two fried eggs, and hot sauce.
Neither Colin nor I could finish the whole thing, not only because it’s so filling but also because mole is so flavorful that it’s hard to eat a lot of it. I think I will probably put a little more broth in the remaining mole when I use it next in order to thin it out a bit. Luckily, I have a lot of leftover mole.