To you Knoxvillians that have not yet eaten at La Esperanza, the little Mexican Tienda on Whittle Springs and Washington Pike (there’s another on Chapman Highway, but I’ve not been), get yourself over there as soon as you can. The food boasts my top three favorite characteristics: delicious, cheap and fresh. A few weeks ago, thanks to the presence of Edyael, who is fluent in spanish and so able to translate a friend’s request for an off-the-menu dish, I was able to taste their chilaquiles, an item that as I said, is not on the menu. But man, it should be. I’d never had chilaquiles before and the memory of that meal has taunted me. I’ve thought about going and trying to order them again, but Edyael had to do a lot of explaining when ordering, so I just don’t know that I’d be able to communicate what I want. So last night I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to La Esperanza, but only to grab some corn tortillas, cilantro, limes, radishes, serrano peppers, onion and queso fresca, the only items you’ll need to make your very own chilaquiles (well, plus vegetable oil and chicken broth, but I’m assuming all my readers keep a well-stocked pantry).
TO MAKE CHILAQUILES:
Step 1: Chop coarsely: 2 serrano peppers, 3/4 onion, 2 tomatoes, a good bunch of cilantro.
Blend with salt and chicken broth until smooth.
Step 2: Cut about 8 corn tortillas into 8 sections. Fry the pieces in vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet. You’ll have to do it in batches:
Step 3: If necessary, add more oil and make sure it’s very hot. Pour in blended sauce (it will sizzle like crazy) and cook for about 7 minutes, until it doesn’t taste raw:
Step 4: While sauce is a-bubblin’, prepare the garnish: thinly slice about three radishes, chop another bunch of cilantro and the remaining onion, crumble some queso fresca, and cut a few limes into small pieces:
Step 5: Once sauce is cooked, lower heat and add tortilla pieces until they are well coated and slightly softened:
Step 6: Transfer to plate, add desired garnish. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa verde if desired:
The result was pretty delicious. Shawn said even more delicious than La Esperanza. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I’d recommend this recipe to anyone.