Peasant Food - Chilaquiles

A few weeks ago I was being bombarded by Bayless. Late one night battling insomnia I caught an old episode of "In the Kitchen with Julia" where Julia Child bought in other well respected chefs to make their signature dishes. Rick Bayless, credited with bringing real Mexican food to mainstream America made black beans, and black bean chilaquiles (chee-la-keel-ees. The next day I clicked on the interesting show "A Chef's Story" where the founder of the French Culinary Institute interviews chefs to discover how they got into the biz, and what drives them to continue their work. Bayless again. He spoke of how he travels to Mexico every year with staff members of his successful restaurants in Chicago to inspire everyone and remind them what their food is about.

That same day I was in possession of lots of leftover cooked chicken that needed using. It was too hot outside to make soup, and too hot for the chicken and dumplings I've been planning for months, ditto chicken pot pie - one of my favorite leftover iterations. A search for cooked chicken on Epicurious for inspiration yielded chilaquiles. I decided fate was telling me to make it. My stomach told me to make it with ingredients I knew I liked.

Rick Bayless took some of his cooked black beans pureed them, and poured them over just fried corn tortillas and baked it in the oven. I'm sure this was wonderful, but I wasn't about to begin cooking black beans from scratch, nor was I going to fry tortillas. Epicurious directed using store bought chips and green jarred salsa. I am picky about green salsa and don't often like it. I picked up a jar of roasted guajillo chile salsa with some chipotle in it, added a can of black beans and used my favorite store bought tortilla chips, Tostito's Restaurant Gold Chips. These are as close to the real thing you're going to come across in a supermarket. I sauteed some onion and a jalapeno in a soup pot. I added the salsa and chicken stock, boiled, reduced to a simmer and added the chicken and black beans. When they were heated through I added the whole bag of coarsely crushed chips. Let it heat through and soften the chips. I spooned it into bowls with shredded jack and a dollop of sour cream, the consistency of very thick stew. Thoroughly well received. Note I didn't add salt anywhere, the chips and chicken stock had plenty. Add more hot sauce if you like. Super great. Thinking back, I saw Rachel Ray (make a dish that had no EVOO!) make what she called green chicken chili, that was similar to the Epicurious original recipe.

Rick Bayless explained this is often a dish made to use up stale tortillas or when money was tight. Wikipedia says it's common for hangovers and for breakfast with an egg on top. True peasant food. Yumm. As water fills the basement on this very rainy day, I might finally get to making the chicken and dumplings.


David McDuff said...

Sounds good (and easy as an added bonus), HC. I always liked Bayless' work but have to admit losing some respect for him when he started doing Burger King endorsements....

HungryChic said...

Tyler Florence for Applebee's, Rocco DiSpirito for Bertolli Pasta (although I had little respect for him since his reality restaurant show) - there are many marketing decisions that chefs make that leave me scratching my head.