Mama G. (aka Leann Grunwald) makes chilaquiles


Mama G. (aka Leann Grunwald) makes yesterday’s tortillas today’s breakfast.

Yesterday’s tortillas are today’s breakfast with chilaquiles, crispy golden fried tortillas, softened to absorb the spicy liquid of whatever delicious chili sauce they are immersed in.

The beauty of chilaquiles lies in the incredible versatility of the dish. Although the basic ingredients consist of tortillas and sauce, additional ingredients can be added including eggs, bacon, chicken, cheese, and my favorite, roasted chili peppers. As a side note, nothing compares to fresh roasting. I love to roast just about anything I can get my hands on.

The best time to eat chilaquiles is just before they turn completely soft and still have a little crunch.

Of course, it’s all about the texture, which is equally important to the palate. This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare, as it’s not complicated and completely delicious, offering elevated flavors with simple ingredients. Your family and guests will never know that it was thrown together in a blink from ingredients on hand in the refrigerator.

In ancient Nahuatl, chilaquiles means “chilis with herbs.” Nahuatl originated in central Mexico and is still spoken today in select communities. Meanwhile, chilaquiles continue to be a very common food eaten by many Mexican families.

To make your chilaquiles even more authentic, try to find a local neighborhood tortilleria where tortillas pressed from freshly ground corn can be found. In fact, tortillas are still one of the best bargains around.

In Mexico City, chilaquiles are often served in a sauce made of tomatillos, green chili, and cilantro. My love for cilantro has grown over the years and I wonder how I ever lived without it.

Preparing chilaquiles is more of a method of cooking, and whichever ingredient is chosen you are sure to be successful. Next time you find yourself with extra ingredients, try serving them up as a savory, satisfying chilaquiles.



Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 Minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Ease of Preparation: Simple

Total Time: 45 Minutes



8          corn tortillas

Vegetable oil for frying

1          can Rosarita refried beans

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2          cans El Pato hot sauce/local grocer

8          oz. white cheddar cheese

3          oz. cojita cheese

3          jalapenos roasted and chopped



Preheat oven to 500 degrees and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Heat oil medium high in small cast-iron pan

Fry tortillas singly to golden crisp. Remove, salt, and drain on baking rack.

In a separate bowl mix one can refried beans with one can El Pato hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

Cover beans, heat in microwave for 2 minutes. Remove, stir, and set aside.

In large cast-iron pan layer tortillas, beans, another can of El Pato sauce, both cheeses, and roasted jalapeno.

Place into oven for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with guacamole and mini butter lettuce


Char Roasting Method

Char roasted is probably my most favorite flavor. Charring concentrates and deepens the flavor of ingredients.

  1. Heat a cast-iron pan lined with foil to medium high. Place vegetables, garlic, onions peppers, chilies and such into pan until semi-blackened on all side. Remove and cover in the foil for 5 minutes, which will allow veggies to steam. Peel and enjoy!



Mama G’s tips

Cast-iron pans are perfect for authentic Mexican dishes as they can go right from stove-top or oven to the table and served family style.

When charring garlic, always leave skin intact and make note that garlic will need to be removed first, as it will burn if left too long. Peel once removed from pan.

I prefer to layer tortillas whole but they can be cut into strips or triangles also.

When I have a (lot) of extra time I will make this dish with freshly made refried beans and fresh salsa verde. It is nothing less than awe-inspiring.

If you want to lighten the calories a bit, this dish will work with tortillas that have been baked to a crisp in the oven first, as opposed to frying. You will sacrifice a little flavor with this method.



El Pato sauce has a history in my own family dating back to great grandma. Wisdom from the person who creates everything from scratch: Allow me to say that the flavor cannot be matched when you are desirous of putting a meal together quickly. El Pato is a pantry essential.

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