1990s Recipes + Menus

Chilaquiles with Turkey and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • Active time:1 hr
  • Start to finish:1 1/4 hr
November 1999
The colloquial translation of chilaquiles is “broken-up old sombrero,” but you could think of it as a savory Mexican version of French toast—created to use up leftover bread. In this case the recipe uses up stale corn tortillas, which are ripped into small pieces and mixed with other ingredients. Although chilaquiles is served all over Mexico, the dish is particularly popular in the central regions, in states such as México and Puebla. Every Mexican cook has his or her own version, which generally consists of tortillas, sauce, shredded meat, and cheese. We’ve fried the tortilla strips to keep them crisp, but if you have access to really good tortillas, you could simply air-dry the strips. In the spirit of the dish, and the season, we decided to use turkey in our recipes because it makes a great finale for the holiday bird. Add a green salad and some Mexican beer, and you’ve got a meal that doesn’t seem remotely like leftovers.

For tortilla strips

  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 (8-oz) packages corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

For chilaquiles

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 (14 1/2-oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 lb shredded cooked turkey meat (4 cups)
  • Roasted tomatillo salsa
  • 6 oz Monterey Jack, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 3 oz queso fresco or feta, crumbled

Fry tortilla strips:

  • Heat oil in a 3 1/2-quart flameproof nonreactive shallow casserole or deep skillet to 375°F. Fry tortillas in batches, turning occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute, and transfer to paper towels to drain (return oil to 375°F between batches). Carefully pour off all but 1 tablespoon hot oil into a large metal bowl to cool before discarding.

Make chilaquiles:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook onion in oil in casserole over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened. Add broth and turkey and simmer, uncovered, stirring, until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups salsa and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and toss with Monterey Jack and tortilla strips. Bake chilaquiles, uncovered, in middle of oven until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Whisk together crème fraîche and milk. Serve chilaquiles topped with crème fraîche, cilantro, and cheese.
Cooks’ note: We used a 12- by 2-inch round enameled cast-iron casserole to assemble and bake our chilaquiles. The wide shallow casserole gave us just enough room for frying and mixing. It also allowed for a nice balance of crisp tortillas on top and softer ones on the bottom.
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