Traditional chilaquiles verdes are given a meaty boost with the addition of ground venison and a fried egg.
It seemed appropriate since most of the title of the recipe was in Spanish to go the whole hog (so to speak). Though Chilaquiles are traditionally made without meat, I think this works great. I’m constantly looking for new and interesting ways to use ground venison. After a successful deer season, the freezer is well stocked. I like the challenge of adding the lean ground meat to unexpected dishes, and this recipe fits the bill.
Like so many Mexican recipes based around tortillas, Chilaquiles are an easy way to turn tortillas into a complete meal. Corn tortillas are fried, then tossed in a sauce with a few other ingredients. The tortilla chips soften even so slightly in the warm sauce, and are optionally topped by a fried egg. FYI, fried egg with a still runny yolk is never a bad addition to any breakfast food. Fact.
Living in Texas we have access to some great Mexican grocery stores. Even the regular grocery stores carry specialty items. This means I was able to find thick pre-fried tortilla chips at the bakery section of my local store. Not having to fry your own saves a huge amount of time and mess, I gotta be honest. So if you can get the premade stuff, do it. The caveat is, they have to be actual fried tortillas, not just the commercial bags of tortilla chips. The chips need to be thick enough to soak up the sauce and still retain some structural integrity. Thin chips are gonna go mushy nearly immediately. And that, my friends, is no bueno.
If you wanted to save another step you can also use a pre-made salsa, but making your own is easy, satisfying and delicious. And chances are, if you’re a fan of this site, you aren’t afraid to give scratch recipes a try anyway. Double the salsa recipe if you want some to keep for snacks and dips later.
Start by making the salsa verde. De-stem and de-seed the poblano and jalapeno chilies. Place the chilies, tomatillos and garlic into a pot of water, and bring to boil over high heat. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Use tongs to carefully remove the peppers, tomatillos and garlic to a food processor or blender. Add in one tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup of the boiling liquid. Allow to cool slightly before blending. Taste, add more salt if needed and more liquid if the sauce is too firm.
Pour the vegetable oil in a deep skillet until at least 2″ deep and place over medium high heat. Line the tortillas up in a stack, cut them in half down the middle. Then cut each half into thirds, giving you 6 wedges per tortilla. Once the oil has reached 375f, fry the tortillas in batches until they have browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to drain.
Place 1-2 tablespoons more oil in another skillet to brown the venison. Add the meat to the pan, then sprinkle with cumin, salt, chili powder, pepper and cinnamon. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat and stir as it cooks, until it is cooked through and no more pink is visible.
In a large pot, place the salsa verde and the venison over very low heat, just to warm through. Add in the fried tortilla chips and gently stir to coat all the chips with the sauce and venison mixture.
Pour enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a skillet (you can use the same one you used to brown the venison to save too many dishes!). Place over medium heat. Once the oil has heated for 2-3 minutes, carefully crack 4 eggs into the pan. Be careful, they will spit and splutter. Cook until the whites are crispy and opaque, but the yolks are still runny.
Divide the chips between four plates, then top each plate with an egg. Sprinkle the plates with cilantro, onion and queso fresco and serve immediately.
Note 1: If you can find pre-fried thick tortilla chips, you can skip the frying step and substitute about 1 lb of them for the fresh tortillas.