Recipe, Commentary, and Instruction by Diana Kennedy


Friends who stay at Rancho San Cayetano, the small hotel about a mile from where I live, always rave about Juana’s chilaquiles in green sauce that is served at breakfast time. Chilaquiles is colloquially referred to as “broken up old sombrero” but is in fact stale corn tortillas broken up and served with lavish chorizo [greasy pork sausage] or shredded chicken. It is a very popular breakfast dish in central Mexico in particular, and each area has its own, slightly different version. Here in the eastern part of Michoacán the tortilla pieces are fried crisp and remain al dente when the sauce has been added; elsewhere they are often cooked to a softer consistency. 

Since Juana has to provide for late risers who amble into the breakfast room throughout the morning, she cooks the sauce separately and adds it to the fried tortillas just before serving. 


The Sauce

12 ounces (340 grams) tomates verdes (green tomatoes), about 14 medium, husks removed and rinsed

4 serrano chiles or to taste

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 T vegetable oil 

Salt to taste

Oil for frying 

8 5-inch (13-centimeter) corn tortillas, cut into ½-inch squares and left to dry overnight

½ cup (125 milliliters) finely chopped white onion


The Topping 

⅔ cup roughly chopped cilantro

¾ cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh cheese) or substitute

⅓ cup crème fraîche or sour cream thinned with a little milk 

Put the tomatoes verdes and chiles into a small pan, cover with water, and cook over low heat until soft but not falling apart. Drain off all but ⅓ cup of the cooking water. Transfer to a blender jar with the garlic and blend until smooth. 

Heat 1 T oil in a skillet, add the sauce with salt to taste, and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until slightly reduced and seasoned – about 5 minutes. Keep warm. 

Heat oil to a depth of ¼ inch in a deep skillet, add the tortilla pieces, a few at a time, and fry until crisp and light gold. Drain on paper toweling and continue with the remaining pieces. Drain off all but ¼ cup of the oil in the pan. Add the tortilla pieces and the onion, cover, and fry over low heat, shaking the pan from time to time, until the onion is translucent; it should not be browned. 

Add the warm sauce and cook, stirring to mix well for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, topping each portion with a generous amount of cilantro, cheese, and cream. 


My Mexico

By Diana Kennedy

The University of Texas Press, October 2013 

Published On: March 23, 2023//Categories: Bex Blog, Recipes//Tags: , , , , , //