Help me out on this one. Am I the only one who has ever made a meal out of chips and salsa? You know the drill. You’re hungry and feeling a bit lazy, so you start in on the chip dipping. Soon enough your snack attack results in a full belly. Oh yeah, I’ve been there. I would bet my Microplane that I’m also not the only one who has stared at the bag of chips seductively and thought, “We should do this again sometime.”
A main dish consisting of crispy tortilla chips drenched in salsa doesn’t have to be the result of a snack attack gone wild. You can do this on purpose. That’s what I love about Chilaquiles.
This irresistible Mexican dish is none other than freshly fried tortilla chips cloaked in a delicious salsa and served hot. A lot of the time, Chilaquiles have eggs or shredded meat mixed in to make them more meal-like. But let’s KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart). These Black Bean Chilaquiles contain no meat, yet are still smothered in a sauce that is high in protein and fiber. That makes them quicker to prepare and healthier, as well. Beans for the win!
When you think of a black bean blended salsa, you might be thinking, “Where’s the tomatoes, where’s the tomatillos? That’s not a salsa!” Salsa is simply Spanish for sauce, so there are a lot of lip-smacking salsa opportunities out there. This black bean interpretation is silky and delicious with a hint of onion and a good punch of heat from the serrano. Add a touch of sour cream and queso fresco and– just wow.
Too little time? Try this hack! When you fry your own homemade tortilla chips, watch out. You may not realize the beast you have unleashed. These chips are so undeniably delicious, they may well be eaten before your salsa is finished cooking. Suffice it to say, they’re good. But not everyone has time to make homemade tortilla chips. This dilemma can easily be solved with your favorite store bought tortilla chip. They won’t be quite as good as the homemade version, but they will certainly do the trick on those busy days.
Here’s another tip. This recipe calls for avocado leaves. These have a delicious fennel-like flavor that is wonderful with the black beans. You can find these leaves next the dried chiles in a Mexican store or perhaps in the ethnic aisle of your local big box store. If you’re not able to find them, don’t worry. It’s an optional ingredient and these chilaquiles will taste different, but will still be absolutely delicious.
Before I sign off, I want to have a quick talk with you about lard. The black bean salsa in this recipe has the option to add lard and I urge you to give it a try, if you aren’t already a lard convert. It tastes amazing with beans and isn’t as unhealthy as you may think. Here’s the secret to healthier lard. Don’t buy the hydrogenated stuff at the store. Scope out the butcher or a Mexican carniceria (butcher) for a freshly rendered version. You can even make your own! Trust me, you won’t regret it. And plus, you can use it to make some stellar tamales later on.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on lard? Do you get carried away with chips and salsa? We wanna hear all about it! See you next time!
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lard or vegetable oil
- 2 avocado leaves (hoja de aguacate), stems removed (optional)
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans in their juices
- 1 ½ cups water, or more as needed
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 serrano chile, stem removed
- 1 ounce queso fresco, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons Mexican crema or sour cream
- ¼ red onion, sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- salt to taste
- Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the lard followed by the onions, avocado leaves (if using), and salt. Cook until the onions begin to brown, then add the beans, water, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer while you make the chips.
- Fill a dutch oven or medium saucepan with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil. Leave at least 2 inches unfilled to make room for the tortillas. Bring the oil to 350ºF over medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, cut the tortillas in half, crosswise, then cut them into 1-inch sections the opposite way. Separate the tortillas strips from each other.
- Add the tortilla strips to the hot oil, in batches if needed, and fry until the bubbling has slowed down and the chips are crispy, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and season with salt.
- Transfer the beans to a blender along with the serrano and blend until smooth. Strain, if desired. The salsa should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add more water, if needed. Heat the salsa in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Place the prepared chips in a large stock pot. Pour enough of the black bean salsa over the chips to coat the chips and stir.
- Divide the chilaquiles among the plates and top with queso fresco, sour cream, onions, cilantro, and serve with lime wedges. Devour immediately.