There was an attempt … to make Chilaquiles

One of my favorite groups in Reddit is “There was an attempt”; it chronicles people trying but failing to do something. I thought my unsuccessful attempt to make chilaquiles would be perfect; unfortunately a human must be in the video/picture. Oh well, I can talk about it here.

The first two times I encountered chilaquiles were at Martanne’s Burrito Palace in Flagstaff, Arizona. We first ate them in September 2018 and they were so good we made a trip there again in 2020. Chilaquiles area dish of green (or red) chili on top of some corn tortilla chips with some eggs on top or underneath. When done right, they look like this

Chilaquiles at Martanne’s Burrito Palace – September 2018

or this

Chilaquiles at Martanne’s Burrito Palace – January 2020

So, I’ve had my eye out for a recipe the past few years and found this one in the NY Times cooking section. It features red chili but looked very simple. Here is what their final result looks like; keep this picture in mind.

NY Times Chilaquiles.

The ingredients are simple without a lot of processed foods. The chicken was left over from Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk roasted chicken recipe we prepared the night before.

Chilaquiles ingredients

Simple prep of the fresh ingredients…

I loved that the recipe calls for making your own enchilada-style sauce. First we broil the tomatoes, onion, and garlic.

Tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and garlic ready for broiling
Vegetables after getting their char on.

While the vegetables roast under the broiler, we steep the stemmed and seeded (mostly) dried chilis in chicken broth.

Dried chilis starting to steep in chicken broth.

It gets very dark.

Fully steeped dried chilis.

It all goes into the blender for a spin.

Broiled vegetables soon to be joined by the chili “tea”.

After the spin.

Enchilada-style sauce ready for chilaquiles.

It smelled delicious in the kitchen at this point. We mix the some of the sauce with our tortilla chips.

Sauced tortilla chips

I also mixed the chicken with the rest of the sauce. Put the chips on the sheet pan, top with the chicken/sauce mixture and roast for a few minutes to get everything warmed through. It smelled good, but when I pulled it out of the oven it looked nothing like the NY Times recipe. Compare with the third picture in this post.

Um, Chilaquiles?

True, the NY Times recipe picture has the dish topped with radish, onion, and what-not on the sheet while I waited until we dished it up.

Chilaquiles for dinner

It looks better here, but while the sauce was good, the dish just didn’t work. The biggest problem was that the tortilla chips became mushy and it was more like polenta – which is fine, but definitely not what I was going for.

Normally after having roast chicken for dinner one night we make chicken enchiladas the next night; we thought chilaquiles might be less fattening since we don’t overload it with cheese. Next time we’ll just go with enchiladas – who knows I might even blog about it since they are very good.

So, what to do to scratch my chilaquiles? I think next time, I’ll start with chili verde – either this pressure cooker recipe or maybe this Dutch oven version. Then just put it on top of some non-sauce tortilla chips and cover with shredded cheese.

Rating: ; a lowly 2 stars; there isn’t anything I can think of that would rescue this particular dish. The delicious sauce saves it from dropping to 1 star. That sauce may come in handy in the future.

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