How-To: Chilaquiles with Simmered Guajillo Sauce

As promised months and months ago, I give you a how-to for making the most delicious guajillo chile (enchilada) sauce…(Click here for a how-to about working with dried chiles.) These pictures almost make me miss my old kitchen where they were taken. Almost.

I have mentioned before how much I love Rick Bayless’s cookbook Mexican Kitchen. It’s almost dog-eared from all the time I have spent looking at it and drooling on the pages.

Rick’s recipe for Essential Simmered Guajillo Sauce has become one of our favorites.

(guajillo chiles read to be seeded and toasted)

Our very favorite thing to make with the Guajillo Sauce is Guajillo Chilaquiles.

A word on Chilaquiles

Maybe you know what they are, maybe you don’t. If you don’t, head over to a good Mexican restaurant and order some. I had no idea what they were until a few years ago. I’ve never looked back. They are my very, very, very favorite Mexican dish of all time.

Chilaquiles are made from leftover tortillas that have been fried, or leftover home-style tortilla chips (the preferred method at our house), and coated with chile sauce. They are typically a brunch food, but we eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Top them with beef, chicken, chorizo, or eggs. Throw some good Mexican cheese on top (Feta works in a pinch), and drizzle with Mexican crema.

Here is how we make them–

Guajillo Chilaquiles
From Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless

For 2 1/2 cups Essential Simmered Guajillo Sauce
(see this post for tips on working with dried chiles)

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
16 medium-large guajillo chiles (about 4 oz. total), stemmed and seeded
1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican (we like Penzey’s)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
5 1/3 cups chicken or beef broth
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil or rich-tasting pork lard
salt, about 1 tsp., depending on the saltiness of the broth
sugar, about 1 1/2 tsp. (I leave this out)

1. Making the Essential Guajillo Sauce. Roast the unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat until soft (they’ll blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel. (I like to place them in my toaster oven sometimes, as is shown in the photos below.)

(raw, unpeeled garlic ready for roasting)

(peeled–they could even be darker and softer)

While the garlic is roasting, toast the chiles on another side of the griddle or skillet; 1 or 2 at a time, open them flat and press down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula; when they crackle, even send up a wisp of smoke, flip them and press down to toast the other side. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain and discard the water.

Combine the oregano, black pepper and cumin in a food process or blender, along with the drained chiles, garlic, and 2/3 cup of the broth.

Blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds. (If the mixture won’t go through the blender blades, add a little more liquid.)

Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a small bowl.

Heat the oil or lard in a heavy, medium-size (4 quart) pot (such as a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela) over medium-high heat.

When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add the puree all at once, and stir constantly until it reduces into a thick paste, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in 3 cups of the broth, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. If necessary, add more broth to bring the sauce to a medium consistency. Taste and season with salt and sugar.

2. The chilaquiles. Add the remaining 1 2/3 cups of broth to the guajillo sauce, heat to a boil, then add the tortilla chips. Stir to coat the chips well, then rapidly boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the chips have softened (but still retain some chewiness), and the sauce has reduced to a medium consistency, 2 to 3 minutes for thinner chips, 4 to 5 for thicker chips.

Spoon the chilaquiles into a warm, deep serving platter (there should be enough sauce to pool around them), drizzle with the cream, sprinkle with the cheese and strew with onion and cilantro leaves. Serve right away, since chilaquiles loose their texture quickly.


Now go and make them, but make sure to invite me over when you do.

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  1. This looks fabulous. I have been following your blog for a few months now and enjoy the things you post. I consider myself a “foodie” and have aspirations to have a great blog like yours. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Lindsey, someone gave me a bag of those chilies last year and I didn’t know what to do with them. I hope they are still good, coz you have showed me what to do! Thanks so much!!!

  3. My favorite Mexican breakfast food :-) And I love Rick’s cooking, I visited both of his Chicago restaurants and they are fabulous!

    Only hard part here is to get hold of the tortillas…

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