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Video: A farm-fresh Mexican feast

TODAY recipes
updated 7/27/2009 10:18:03 AM ET 2009-07-27T14:18:03

Recipe: Chilaquiles verdes

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican peasant dish of fried tortillas bathed in green or red salsa (depending on the region) until tender. Slightly tart green tomatillo sauce is preferred in Mexico City, Jimmy Shaw's home town, and is very simple to make.

The comfort food is most commonly eaten at breakfast time as a "bring me back to life" hangover cure-all or in celebration after a wedding. Unlike nachos, chilaquiles are a meal to be eaten with a fork; they're not chips with stuff on top.

As the saying goes, there are as many recipes for chilaquiles as there are cooks. Nothing is wasted in the Mexican home, so this dish was born as a clever way to revive yesterday's tortillas and leftover salsa.

At Lotería, breakfast is served all day and you can ask for chilaquiles to be topped with a fried egg or shredded chicken or beef.

Ingredients
  • Salsa verde
  • 8 medium tomatillos (1 1/2 pounds), husked and rinsed
  • 1 serrano chile or jalapeño, stemmed
  • 1/2 white onion, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • Fried corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Chilaquiles
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco or mild feta
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Crema fresca or sour cream, for garnish
Preparation

Salsa verde
Put the tomatillos, chile, onion and garlic in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the tomatillos turn pale green. Cool slightly.

Transfer the boiled vegetables, along with the cooking water, to a blender. Puree for a few seconds to blend; be sure to hold down the lid with a towel for safety. Add the herbs, salt and broth. Continue to puree until smooth. You should have about 1 quart of salsa verde.

Put a pot over medium-high heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is hot, pour in the tomatillo sauce, it will bubble a bit. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Keep warm while assembling the chilaquiles.

Chips
Pour about 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or countertop deep fryer and heat to 375 degrees F. Stack the tortillas and fan them with your thumb to separate. Cut the tortillas into eight wedges like a pie.

Working in batches, fry the tortilla chips, turning them with a skimmer or slotted spoon so they don't stick together, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chips to a paper towel-lined baking pan or brown paper bag to drain. (Return the oil to the proper temperature between batches.) Cool.

Chilaquiles
Pour the salsa verde into a wide pot or pan and place over medium heat. Just when it starts to bubble, stir in the beaten eggs. Cook and stir for about 5 seconds until the egg feathers into the sauce to thicken and bind.

Immediately add the chips, tossing gently until they have absorbed enough sauce and become soft. Take care not to break the chips. Sprinkle the Jack cheese on top and let it melt.

Serving

Pile the chilaquiles on a large platter or on four individual dishes. Sprinkle with queso fresco, onion and cilantro. Garnish with crema fresca.

Tips

If frying your own tortilla chips seems too involved (it’s really easy though), as a shortcut this dish can be made with store-bought tortilla chips, but choose unsalted.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Huevos rancheros (ranchers-style eggs)

Huevos Rancheros (Spanish for "ranch eggs") are part of many Mexican families' traditions. This is one of the most beloved popular recognizable dishes on Loteria's breakfast menu. Rich black beans and buttery mashed potatoes round out the meal.

Ingredients
  • Ranchero sauce
  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 white onion, halved
  • 1 serrano chile or jalapeño, stemmed and halved
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Eggs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 large corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or mild feta, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Preparation

Ranchero sauce
Combine the tomatoes, onion, chile and garlic in a blender (you may need to do this in batches). Puree for a few seconds until completely smooth. You should have about 1 quart of tomato sauce.

Heat the oil in a pot or skillet. Carefully pour in the tomato puree and fry it over high heat, it will bubble a bit. Stir in the broth and salt. Reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer until the sauce deepens in color and thickens, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. (Sauce can be prepared a day or two day ahead, the flavors will get better. Keep refrigerated.)

Eggs
Coat a large skillet with about a quarter inch of oil and put over medium heat. When the oil is hot, fry 1 or 2 tortillas at a time. Cook until the tortillas are lightly crisp around the edges but still pliable. Using tongs, remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Also pat the tops of the tortillas to remove excess oil.

Pour out the oil from the skillet and return to medium heat. Fry the eggs, 2 at a time, until set.

Dip each tortilla in the ranchero sauce to coat and put on a plate. Place 2 eggs on top of each tortilla and spoon with more sauce. The sauce will finish cooking the yolks.

Serving

Garnish with queso fresco, onion and cilantro. Serve with Frijoles Negros y Papas con Rajas. (See below for recipes.)

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Frijoles negros (black beans)

Frijoles negros (black beans) are a staple of Mexican cuisine. This vegetarian and lard-free recipe is flavorful, simple to prepare, and has many uses. Lotería features these creamy beans as a side dish and as a burrito filling.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves striped from the stem
  • 1 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano
  • 1/2 pound dried black turtle beans, picked through and rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preparation

Put a 3 quart pot over medium-high heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, tomato, garlic and herbs.

Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, broth, and enough cold water to cover by 1-inch and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beans are very tender and beginning to break down, about 2 hours. You want them to the point where they start bursting and are moist and creamy. Watch the heat carefully and stir often to prevent the beans from sticking and burning.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Serving Size

Makes 1 quart, serves 4

Recipe: Papas con rajas (potatoes with pepper strips)

Rajas means "rags" in Spanish, and in the Mexican kitchen, generally refers to roasted poblano peppers cut into strips. At Lotería, this all-purpose potato side dish is popular as a taco filling for L.A.'s vegetarian customers.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and halved if large
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Preparation

Rub the poblano peppers with a little oil and roast on a very hot grill, over a gas flame or under a broiler until the skin is blistered and blackened on all sides. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sweat for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins. Peel and rub off the charred skin under cool running water, pull out the cores, and remove the seeds. Set aside.

Put the potatoes in a pot of water, add the salt and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until there is no resistance when a fork is inserted into the potatoes, about 30 minutes.

Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. While the potatoes are still hot, mash them well with a potato masher. Add the butter and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Mix in the poblano strips and season with a generous pinch of salt.

Serving Size

Makes 2 cups, serves 4

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