What Do You Mean… Paleo Chilaquiles?
One of my favorite Sunday brunch foods is Chilaquiles. Since the main ingredient for these babies is tortilla chips, it is 100% not an item you can eat when you are living that paleo life. However, since the wonderful people at Siete Foods developed a DELICIOUS corn free tortilla chip, these babies are BACK in my life. I’m so excited to share my paleo chilaquiles with you!
Fundamentally Chilaquiles are the MOST basic, simple food. It is creative repurposing of leftovers at its best. Tortilla chips bathed in warm salsa. That’s really all there is too it. I love the version using tomatillo salsa, but you can do this with any salsa you like. You need good salsa verde and you need chips. My version has wandered pretty far away from the classic with these paleo chilaquiles.
I was inspired by the wonderful Latin Deli here in Dallas, and decided I wanted to make my own spin on them. My version is topped with fried eggs, pollo pibil, sliced avocado, cilantro and even some pomegranate seeds. I am in deep, deep love with pomegranate right now, so of course I had to toss some on top for a bright sweet touch. Ya’ll, LOVE. It’s been fun developing this Paleo Chilaquiles Recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do!
The chicken for my paleo chilaquiles was inspired by my trip to Tulum, where you can find pollo pibil at pretty much all the local taco shops and chicken stands. I think I am most inspired by the food of the Yucatan Peninsula. As a matter of fact I flip, through David Sterling’s gigantic cookbook on the topic and dream of Mexico all the time.
The food in this part of the Mexico revolves around seasoning pastes called recados. One of the most common is Recado Rojo. If you visit a market during your trip to Mexico you are sure to discover a stall selling recados in all colors of the rainbow, red, black, green. Many of these recados are hard to find here in the US, but recado rojo can be found pretty easily. This achiote paste can be purchased at your local specialty grocer, your local latin grocer or online. While you are at it, go ahead and buy some banana leaves. You will end up with WAAAAY more banana leaves than you need, but don’t worry the whole darn bag is less than $2.00
While you don’t HAVE to have these, I think cooking the chicken in in the banana leaves gives a lovely flavor that can’t be replicated. Very much like the Honduran Skirt Steak, this marinade traditionally calls for naranja agria (sour orange). Since this particular ingredient is EXTREMELY difficult to find here in the US, we are using a combination of orange, lime and grapefruit juice to bring that lovely sour, sweet citrus flavor to the party. This might seem exotic and hard but, it is actually very simple to make. Don’t let the unfamiliar ingredients scare you away from make it!
You can’t make chilaquiles of any kind, nevermind paleo chilaquiles without salsa. My preference for these paleo chilaquiles is a tomatillo salsa.This is one of my all time favorite salsas. Given a choice between green and red salsa I will almost always for for the green. This recipe is simple to make and not very hot at all. In the Yucatan this would include some habanero, but I prefer this version with serranos instead. If you have never made your own salsa, let me reassure you. You are basically chucking everything into a sauce pan to simmer and then you are chucking it all in the blender. It does not get much easier than this. I know its pretty easy to buy a jar, but this fresh version is tastier and as a bonus, you get to skip all the nasty preservatives they usually add to keep it shelf stable.
Along with the tangy tomatillos you will need something creamy to balance the paleo chilaquiles’ flavors out. If you are like me and passing on most things dairy I think you will appreciate this lovely creamy addition! I like creamy things… but dairy makes me stuffy as all get out. When I have dairy in my life to any significant degree I end up with a stuffy nose, and generally feel a little bloated, so I have been working to limit my dairy intake to really special cheeses and replace all the rest with something plant-based.
My dairy replacements vary by usage. For crema, I might use coconut cream with salt and lime, but it can add a level of sweetness that I don’t always want. In the case of my paleo chilaquiles I really want to add pomegranate to the party. Instead of the coconut sour cream, I use this cashew crema. It’s only a few steps and you can make it ahead so it’s ready to use when you need it. Do try and use it all up within seven days though. It won’t hold longer than that,
Perfect Fried Eggs
This is not a recipe, if you think fried eggs are challenging, rest assured, they are simple. You need either a non-stick skillet or a well seasoned cast iron skillet. For the sake of this post, lets assume you are cooking your eggs in cast iron. First things first though…. crack your eggs into a little bowl and pre-season them with salt and pepper.
Heat that beautiful cast iron skillet up, seriously get it hot… then add olive oil to the skillet and turn it down to medium. Add your eggs to the hot pan, and cover. Let them cook covered for 2 minutes and check them. You want the whites to be set and the yolks to be runny. (ok, well that’s what I want, if you agree do this) If it looks like the whites need a little more setting you can do one of two things. Spoon hot oil from the pan onto the whites that need finishing or put the lid back on for a little longer.
The amount of time this takes 100% depends on the heat of your stove and your preferences with regard to your eggs so play with it, pay attention to your eggs watch for the moment they are how you like them. These are quick so give them your undivided attention for the 5 or 6 minutes it takes to get them right.
Assembling Your Chilaquiles
To assemble your Paleo Chilaquiles layer your platter with your chips, pour hot tomatillo salsa over the chips, top with shredded chicken, fried eggs, and sliced avocado. Then add sprinkle chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds all over the top and drizzle with the cashew crema.