This easy Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa makes chilaquiles verdes. A beloved Mexican dish eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or supper in Mexico, chilaquiles was created to use up day-old tortilla chips and other leftovers, and is a very versatile dish. It’s also a popular Mexican hangover cure!
This Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa is my attempt to recreate the chilaquiles verdes (green chilaquiles) or, more correctly, chilaquiles con pollo en salsa verde (chilaquiles with chicken in green salsa) that I became addicted to at Café la Blanca in Mexico City many years ago.
Mexican chilaquiles – homemade tortilla chips called totopos that are created from frying stale corn tortillas, which are then cooked in salsa, and served with Mexican cotija and crema – is a pre-Hispanic Aztec dish. Chilaquiles – pronounced chee-lah-KEE-lehs – comes from a Nahuatl word that meant ‘chillies and greens’.
Long a popular Mexican breakfast dish, chilaquiles can really be eaten at any time of day. Filling and comforting, it makes for a fantastic lunch or dinner, while my Mexican friends used to tuck into late-night bowls after an evening spent bar-hopping and clubbing, swearing it was the best hangover cure.
This Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa is the latest edition in our Weekend Eggs recipe series on quintessential eggs dishes from around the world.
If you’re visiting us for the first time, we launched Weekend Eggs back in 2010 when we launched Grantourismo with a yearlong global grand tour aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel. We spent two weeks in each destination, staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to get an insight into how locals lived their lives.
In each place we settled into, we explored the local food, connected with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties, which we shared in a series called The Dish, for which Terence learnt to cook a quintessential dish of each place, and our Weekend Eggs series, which we rebooted early last year.
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Mexican Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs, Shredded Chicken and Green Salsa for Chilaquiles Verdes
This easy Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa is my attempt to recreate that chilaquiles con pollo en salsa verde or chilaquiles with chicken in green salsa that I became smitten with at Café la Blanca in Mexico City all those years ago.
Back in 1997, I was in the Mexican capital completing research for my masters on Latin American Cinema. It was the last stop on an exhausting Latin American trip that took me to nine countries, most of which I’d spent a month at a time in, watching movies from the continent in darkened cinemas at film festivals and archives.
By the time I got to Mexico City, I was well and truly in thesis write-up mode, so my priorities were somewhere to work with the table, chair and bright lights that my budget hotel room lacked, along with strong coffee and affordable and delicious comfort food.
Café la Blanca ticked all boxes and the staff had no issues with me returning night after night, taking up a table for hours to work, as long as I ate and drank, and I think they were amused by my addiction to their chilaquiles con pollo en salsa verde.
I think this Mexican chilaquiles recipe will make you something fairly close in flavour, as long as you can get tomatillos – they’re essential and like all fruit and vegetables are best fresh. We can’t get tomatillos here, so when we can’t we’ll use canned tomatillos or a store-bought salsa verdes made with tomatillos.
The presentation of our chilaquiles is obviously not very traditional. A busy cook at a restaurant like Cafe la Blanca is not going to evenly sprinkle sliced onions and jalapeños on their chilaquiles and nor should you. Sorry, I can’t help myself.
Mexican cotjia, a white crumbly cheese, is essential. It’s available on Amazon, however, if you can’t source it use a crumbly white cheese. Mexican cooking instructors have recommended a mild crumbly feta as an alternative, however, feta can often be too salty, so we prefer a European-style white cheese.
Mexican crema is another product that’s challenging to source outside Mexico so we will use sour cream, which we thin out with a little milk when we’re not in Mexico.
Lastly, I sprinkle chilli flakes on my eggs which is not at all traditionally Mexican and again that’s my Southeast Asian influence there but you do as you like.
Just a few tips to making this Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa.
Tips to Making this Mexican Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs, Shredded Chicken and Green Salsa for Chilaquiles Verdes
I only have a few tips for making this Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa, so let’s start with the homemade tortilla chips called totopos in Mexico. Mexican chilaquiles are thought to have been created to use up stale corn tortillas.
Traditionally, day-old corn tortillas are sliced into triangles and fried in a pan to make totopos. Although I notice that increasingly younger more health-conscious Mexicans are baking them. We prefer frying, but then we’re not eating chilaquiles every day. They’re super easy to make and we can provide a separate recipe for totopos if you find that necessary.
Having said that, we can’t always source corn tortillas here, nor can we find Mexico’s corn flour called masa harina here to make our own. We encourage you to give them a try if you can get hold of masa harina. It’s also worth investing in a cast-iron tortilla press.
We have made flour tortillas and also used store-bought wheat flour tortillas and made tortilla chips by slicing and frying those. They aren’t ideal for chilaquiles as even very stale flour tortillas get soggy quickly compared to corn tortillas.
We also rarely have leftover tortillas, and in that case will use plain handmade tortilla chips made by a Mexican restaurant here in Siem Reap. You can also find plain unsalted restaurant-style tortilla chips online. They work, but commercial, flavoured corn chips like Doritos and the like will not.
To make your shredded chicken, you could really use any part of the chicken, but I think whole chicken breasts poach best and if you poach them until they are just-done, they should stay moist.
Check the temperature at 8 minutes to ensure they don’t over-cook and it’s essential to use a kitchen meat thermometer and poke it into the thickest part of the breast. When the chicken reaches 70°C/158°F remove it.
Set the chicken aside and then when it’s cool enough to touch, just use your fingers to pull it apart. That’s why it’s sometimes called pulled chicken. Make sure to keep the poaching liquid for the salsa.
Think tomatillos are essential for this green salsa, although I do know of Mexican cooks who skip them and only use coriander (cilantro). (I’ve not tried that sauce yet, but I will and will report back.) Start with fresh tomatillos if you can find them, and if you can’t buy canned whole tomatillos and purée them in a blender or food processor.
We can occasionally get the La Costena brand of whole canned tomatillos here, but when we can’t we’ll buy La Costena’s ‘green salsa tomatillo sauce‘, which is essentially a salsa verde.
That’s all we have access to here, however, there are so many brands, including smaller artisanal brands, available on Amazon that we’d be testing out if we could. Do let us know if you have used any of those and can recommend them in the comments and we’ll share your tips here. If you can’t source tomatillos, fresh or canned, that means skipping step 3.
If you can’t source Mexican cotija cheese (it’s available on Amazon), use a crumbly white cheese, such as a European or Danish white cheese, or a feta cheese as long as it’s not too salty. We sometimes serve frijoles or refried beans on the side, as they do in Mexico, and we also like to douse on a little extra hot sauce, such as Tapatio or Cholula.
I recommend prepping all your garnishes, toppings and sauces first, then assembling your chilaquiles before frying your eggs. Quickly fry the eggs to your liking, pop them on top of the chilaquiles, and serve immediately with additional garnishes and crema so guests can customise their dishes to their liking.
Mexican Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs, Shredded Chicken and Green Salsa for Chilaquiles Verdes
- 300 g chicken breasts
- 300 ml chicken broth poaching liquid
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 300 g tomatillos fresh, cooked and reduced or canned and puréed (see notes)
- ½ tsp salt
- 100 g fresh coriander leaves only
- 100 g corn tortillas stale, sliced into triangles and deep fried or store-bought restaurant style (see notes)
- 50 g cotija cheese or crumbly fresh white cheese or feta
- 1 purple shallots roughly sliced
- 2 fresh serrano chillies sliced – or jalapeno slices
- 100 ml Mexican crema – or sour cream or crème fraiche thinned with milk
- 1 small avocado peeled and sliced
- 1 lime quartered
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp chilli flakes optional
- In a medium pot over medium heat, poach the whole chicken breasts in just enough room temperature water to cover the breasts, turning heat to low after the water begins to simmer, and adding more water if needed to ensure the chicken is just-covered.
- Check the temperature at 8 minutes by poking a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast; when the chicken reaches 70°C/158°F remove, set aside, and when cool enough to touch, shred by pulling apart the chicken with your fingers. Keep the poaching liquid for the salsa.
- In a deep medium-sized frying pan or skillet over medium heat, add the oil and fry the chopped onion until soft and translucent, add the garlic and continue to fry until fragrant (do not to let the garlic brown), then add the puréed tomatillos, chicken broth and salt and simmer, stirring occasionally, and increasing heat if needed, to reduce and thicken the salsa. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Add half the fresh coriander and the shredded chicken to the green salsa, stir to combine well, then add the tortilla chips and continue to simmer until the tortilla chips are just soft; no longer, as you don’t want the tortilla chips to turn to mush.
- Distribute the tortilla chips, salsa and shredded chicken between two plates.
- Sprinkle on the cotija or crumbly white cheese, remaining fresh coriander, purple shallot slices, and serrano chilli slices or jalapeno slices; spoon on the Mexican crema or sour cream or crème fraiche; and arrange the avocado slices on top, squeezing a little lime juice on them.
- Fry the eggs to your liking and pop the eggs on top of the chilaquiles, sprinkle with chilli flakes, and serve immediately with additional dishes of garnishes and hot sauces.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Mexican chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs, shredded chicken and green salsa, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.