Hello friends, are you still there? I know things have gone quiet around here but today is the day we’re going to get the ball rolling again because I have a show-stopping brunch number that will put all other brunch fare to shame, just in time for the weekend!
I actually made these chilaquiles from the Small Victories Cookbook on the hazy morning after our housewarming party, almost two weeks ago, but got majorly distracted by a visit to New Orleans to celebrate my Mama's birthday. You better believe we pulled out all the stops for Ma’s birthday too, eating unholy amount of food, spending some much needed quality time with our favorite little fam on the planet, doing all the sweaty City Park things, and and AND getting in formation with the Queen herself at the Superdome. I wore my mom “slap out” as they say, dragging her around to all my favorite spots, and when all was said and done she declared Beyoncé to be the best concert she'd ever attended. Agreed, duh!
And while my bedtime has been noticeably earlier since returning home - mostly on account just how painful it is to re-learn what a sunrise looks like (meep!) - there’s been plenty of bopping around speak of this week, in the kitchen and otherwise. On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending an event at Omnivore Books to see the most enchanting home-cook badass herself, Julia Turshen, in conversation with the equally charming Samin Nosrat. These two ladies embody everything I want to be in a woman - incredibly smart and hilarious storytellers with amazing hair and their very own cookbooks (Samin's is forthcoming). All the girl power things.
And this recipe is a perfect example of what excites me most about they kind of cooking that they're doing, in that it completely demystifies a dish that would typically feel too overly complicated to make at home. Yes, you're frying your own tortillas and making your own salsa from scratch, but it just doesn't feel like a big deal with Turshen's soothing writing guiding you along. And good GAWD the final product. I swear you won't question the effort after one bite. Nor will you ever want to allow another mediocre strip of chilaquile to come anywhere near your lips ever again. This. Is. Not. A. Drill. This plate of salty, crunchy, umami realness is not only the most perfect bed for a fried egg you could ever imagine in your wildest dreams, but also the bourgiest homemade hangover cure in all the land. I'll drink to that.
Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomato Salsa, adapted from the Small Victories Cookbook
1 lb (455 g) tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped*
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
Grapeseed oil for frying (original called for canola)
1 handful of cilantro ripped from the bunch
5 tbsp lime juice, from about 2 medium limes
3 tbsp sour cream
12 corn tortillas, cut into thick strips or wedges
1/4 cup (80g) finely crumbled feta (or cojita) cheese
Pickled Red Onions
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) white vinegar (white wine vinegar subs just fine)
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
*I used little crate of cherry tomatoes because I had some that had been neglected and were so close to getting tossed. While I feel like Julia would be pleased with this food-saving substitution, I do not recommend it because I had to squeeze the seeds out of each and every tomato. Large ones will prep much faster.
Make the pickled onions so that they can get to pickling while you prepare the chilaquiles. In a pint-sized jar, combine the sugar, salt, vinegar and water. Shake until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the slice onions, cap the jar, and give it a good shake. They’ll be lightly pickled in half an hour, but will only get better with time.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Place the chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, and onion on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with 1 tbsp of oil, sprinkle on 1/2 tsp salt, and toss lightly to distribute the oil. Roast, shaking the pan halfway through, until the tomatoes are limp and wrinkly, and the onions are lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor (or blender) and add all but a few sprigs of the cilantro (which you will use for garnish). Squeeze in 2 tbsp of the lime juice. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides halfway through. Season the salsa to taste with salt and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, the remaining 3 tbsp of lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Set a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and add 1/2 inch (12 mm) of oil. Test the heat of the oil by dipping the edge of a tortilla strip into it; it will be hot enough when the oil around the strip bubbles vigorously. Add the tortilla strips a large handful at a time, just enough to form a single layer in the pan, and cook, turning each one once, until crispy and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes on each side. (Note: It took me 4 batches to fry them all, but I mistakenly grabbed an 8-pack of corn tortillas and so was 4 short. The first batch took substantially longer to brown than the later batches.) As you fry the strips, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the each batch to a paper towel-lined baking sheet before adding the next. Season with a little salt as they cool on the pan.
Once you’ve crisped all of the tortilla strips, pour off the oil from the pot and discard whatever oil that remains. (Safe discarding tip from Julia: pour into a bowl, let it cool, then pour into a bottle or jar, seal, and throw away.) Pour the salsa from the blender into the pot - don’t sweat it if there pot is still a little slick from the oil - and bring the salsa to a boil. Lower immediately to a simmer and add the tortilla chips. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chips have wilted and soaked up some of the salsa, about 5 minutes. At first it will look like a lot of chips for that amount of salsa, but it will all even out once the chips have softened. You want the final chilaquiles to be soft but not soggy.
Layer the chilaquiles onto a platter (or 4 plates) and top with feta cheese and the lime cream. Scatter the pickled onions and garnish with cilantro. Top it with a fried egg because: of course!