We’ve all been there at some point, from waking up with hiking battle wounds to a lack of beauty sleep to the inevitable few too many the night before while sharing stories around a camp fire, a hearty breakfast can be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Enter chilaquiles a la Mexicana.
From the eggs to the sauce and veggies, it is a wholesome breakfast meal that you can evolve to make it your own. You can substitute the red sauce with a green sauce (tomatillo salsa verde), add grilled nopales and/or poached shredded chicken and finish it off with a generous dab of freshly made pico de gallo.
Prep and cooking time: 45 minutes
- 3 fresh tomatoes or 1 (15-ounce) can whole of crushed tomatoes, drained
- 1-2 avocados
- 4 eggs
- 7 chillies
- ½ cup of chopped cilantro leaves or a fistful
- 2 limes rind and for garnish
- 1 cup diced queso fresco or cotija cheese
- 3-4 radishes thinly sliced
- ½ diced white or red onion
- 2 diced garlic cloves
- 1-2 sliced jalapeños
- cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Step 1: Soaking the dry chilies
I took the liberty of adapting this version from an original Bon Appétit’s recipe, and to save me some time I soaked the ancho and New Mexico chiles the night before (which you can also do the morning of) in some lukewarm water so they are soft enough to mash up into a paste the following day. Feel free to use any kind of chiles such as chimayo, guajillo, chipotle, fresh poblano or its dry counterpart, ancho. The possibilities are endless and in this case I added one third of a fresh aji amarillo (yellow pepper) or Mirasol to kick up the heat.
Step 2: Fire up the wood
Upon rolling out of my tent that morning, the first thing to check off from my list was to start up the fire to get the poaching water ready for the eggs and to simmer the tomato chili sauce.
Step 3: Mise en place
Line up all your ducks in a row, which include:
- 3 Thinly sliced radishes. I used my handy mandolin to get the slices paper thin.
- Chop up cilantro leaves for the sauce and to sprinkle as garnish.
- In addition to the cilantro leaves, using a pestle and mortar, I crushed the cilantro root into a paste, later to be added into the sauce. This is entirely optional.
- Dice the garlic and onion and slice one jalapeño into thin cuts.
- If you are using non-canned tomatoes, about three diced tomatoes should do the trick.
- Chop up the queso fresco in small cubes. You can also supplement it with cotija or feta cheese.
- Slice the avocados right before serving so the flesh doesn’t brown from oxidization.
- Grating half of one lime’s rind. For this recipe I used a superbly fragrant kafir lime, but a regular lime works just as well.
Step 4: Prepare the eggs
To save you some time, using a ramekin or a short cup, place some saran wrap inside the container and carefully crack an egg into it.
Follow this up by tying a knot to seal any egg from leaking out once it’s dipped into the bubbling water. Set aside as many as you need to poach later on.
Step 5: Mash up the chili paste
I would recommend making a paste ahead of time or purchasing one already made from your local market. It is really easy to make, but before mashing it up, remove all the seeds and incrementally pull out any of the excess chili skins. I used a mortar and pestle, but you should also be able to crush it with a fork in a small bowl.
Step 6: Making the sauce
Saute the onions, jalapeño and garlic until golden, add some cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Drop in the chopped tomatoes and chili paste, the diced cilantro, root paste and finally the lime rind before stirring together on the skillet.
Step 7: Poach the eggs
As the sauce simmers, drop the eggs into the boiling water and poach for 3-4 minutes, but do not overcrowd your pot as you want them to cook thoroughly yet runny enough while timing it just right as you don’t want the eggs to be sitting aside for too long.
Step 8: Mix the sauce with the tortillas
Once the sauce is ready, pour it on top of the tortillas and mix well with a spoon.
Add the queso fresco, stir once or twice and serve on a plate as quickly as you can to avoid the tortillas from getting soggy.
Neatly place the rest of the ingredients including the radishes, chopped cilantro, quartered avocado, any additional sliced jalapeño, a handful of freshly diced red onions to your liking and finally the poached eggs on top of each mound.
Step 9: Serve it up
Feel free to slice the egg down the middle for presentation purposes and sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper on the egg and avocado before passing along to your hungry companions.
And there you have it, a hearty breakfast to lift your spirits before setting out on your next outdoor adventure.