If anyone should know if a recipe’s a keeper, it’s the person tasked with making sense of the original instructions—from the far reaches of Sri Lanka, say, or a famous chef who measures nothing. This might explain why many test kitchen staffers named favorites that their predecessors had tested and recommended. (Though a couple put forth recipes they developed themselves.) And while Saveur never shies away from the oddball authentic ingredient, the fare on the following pages is the stuff we cook at home, over and over again. Consider it global comfort food.


SERVES 6 • Total: 1 hr. 25 min.

Vivian Jao and I tested this recipe with and without the chicken bouillon powder and decided that it definitely tasted so much more addictive with. We called it “crack-quiles” and could not stop eating it. I have made this truly delicious, down-to-earth dish numerous times since, for both upscale dinner parties and game-day snacking. It’s always a big hit.

Judy Joo, test kitchen assistant, 2004–2005

2 cups corn or canola oil, divided
Eighteen 6-in. corn tortillas, cut into sixths
1½ lb. (about 3 large) vine-ripened tomatoes
4 medium jalapeños
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 medium white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon powder (optional)
2½ cups shredded boiled chicken (optional)
¾ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
4 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled
Pickled jalapeños, for topping (optional)

1 Line a large baking sheet with a few layers of dry paper towels and set it aside. To a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add 1 cup oil; when the oil is hot, working in batches, fry the tortillas until crisp and golden, 3–4 minutes per batch. Using a slotted metal spoon or spider skimmer, transfer the chips to the lined baking sheet as you continue frying the rest. Discard the oil, wipe out the skillet, and set aside.

2 To a medium pot, add the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic. Measure ¼ cup of the onions for garnish and set them aside; add half of the remaining onions to the pot, as well as enough cold water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer, and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, 18–20 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the cilantro and continue cooking 1 minute more. Drain the vegetables, discarding the cooking liquid. Peel and core the tomatoes and stem the jalapeños (for a milder sauce, remove and discard the japaleño seeds). Transfer the vegetables to a blender and purée to make a smooth sauce, then set aside.

In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add all but the reserved ¼ cup of onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are softened and translucent,

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