On The Range: Chilaquiles

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Seriously, you would think that the people of Mexico had enough hangover remedies.

After all, this is the culture that gave us menudo, that savory dish of cow or sheep stomach soup that is de rigueur eating on New Year's morning--not to mention other sopas such as chicken tortilla, which many people claim to have the same desired effect.

Why do we need another?

Two answers: One, people might not exactly cotton to the idea of eating sheep stomach soup. More important: Chilaquiles, the delicious concoction of eggs, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and fried leftover tortilla strips is a great way to start any day. Besides, after a night of imbibing tequila, mezcal, or your favorite cervezas, you need all the help you can get.

Rick Bayless, author of such indispensable cookbooks as Mexico: One Plate at a Time and Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures, described the appeal of chilaquiles in this manner:

"Chilaquiles---they're so ingrained in the cultural consciousness that most Mexicans don't even know the word means 'chiles and greens' in Nahuatl, the ancient tongue of the ancestors. They only know the soulful texture of crisp tortillas softening in brothy sauce, which resist just a little as you sink your teeth in deeply. They appreciate the spiciness of chile against the earthiness of corn. And their mouths water, loving how smoothly go down, how agreeably they stick to the ribs."

Amen, brother, especially on those mornings after when your stomach is as fried as your head.

Diana Kennedy, who is also quick to note in her book The Cuisines of Mexico that chilaquiles translates colloquially into "broken-up old sombrero," adds that like many other dishes, each chef has his or her own variation.

"In Sinaloa, chilaquiles are sometimes cooked in a white sauce; then there is a version where you cut tortillas into quarters, stuff them with cheese, and cook them in a sauce of chiles anchos," she writes. "To me, they are all equally delicious."

If you've lived in Dallas for any length of time, you've most likely dined at Mi Cocina, Taco Diner or any other restaurant started by branches of the Enriquez/Rodriguez family that has made total dominance of Hispanic dining in this city its mission for almost twenty years. But Mia's, started by matriarch Ana Enriquez many years ago is the standout--and still an Oak Lawn institution to this day.

Mia's has an entire section of its lengthy menu devoted to huevos (egg) creations, such as Huevos Rancheros and Papas Con Huevos, and if you want extra flavor in your chilaquiles, then consider adding their spicy chorizo to the eggs, tortilla strips, peppers, onions and tomatoes in your dish.

Served with excellent refried beans and papas (potatoes), Mia's chilaquiles are virtually guaranteed to chase your morning-after blues away.

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