- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In Mexico, day-old tortillas are combined with other ingredients to make a thick, pudding-like breakfast dish called chilaquiles. In my adaptation, which I call chilaquile casserole, fresh corn tortillas are layered with cheese, beans and seasonings, then drenched in a savory custard and baked until golden.

Comforting and filling, this dish makes memorable south-of-the-border brunch fare. And it tastes as good reheated as it does when served freshly baked. If you have some stale tortillas sitting around, this is a good way to employ them. They’ll rejuvenate when combined with the other ingredients.

If you can’t get your hands on a fresh Anaheim or poblano chili, you may substitute a 4-ounce can of minced green chilies.

Chilaquile casserole makes a very satisfying meal when served with an assortment of exotic salsas and a mixed-bean salad. Put out a platter of watermelon with wedges of lime, and you’re ready.

Chilaquile casserole

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups minced onion

1 medium Anaheim or poblano chili, seeded and minced

1 teaspoons ground cumin

teaspoon salt

2 large cloves garlic, minced

12 corn tortillas

2 packed cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

4 large eggs

2 cups milk

Black pepper

Sour cream and exotic salsas for topping

Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.

Add the onion and chili, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin and salt; cover and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in the garlic and, without further cooking, remove pan from the heat.

Tear 6 of the tortillas into bite-size pieces, and spread them evenly in the sprayed pan. Distribute half the cooked mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle the top with half the cheese.

Tear remaining tortillas, and spread these on top of the cheese. Repeat layering with the rest of the cooked mixture and the remaining cheese.

Beat together eggs and milk; grind in some black pepper. Slowly pour this custard over the casserole. Bake uncovered in preheated 375-degree oven for 35 minutes, or until set and lightly browned on top. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Pass toppings so that guests can serve themselves. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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