In Mexico, cooks serve this quick casserole of fried tortillas and salsa as a brunch dish with eggs. We omit the eggs and instead combine hen-of-the-woods mushrooms with a spicy, rich salsa made from pasilla chiles, resulting in a light but satisfying vegetarian main course.
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*Note: Pasillas are long, black dried chiles with a fruity, herbaceous flavor. They are available at Latin markets.
- 4 pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded*
- 2 Cups hot water
- 4 plum tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 Cup canola oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 Pound hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (maitake), separated into bite-sized pieces
- One 13-ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed into 1/2-inch pieces
- Queso fresco, crumbled, for garnish
- Mexican crema (or sour cream), for garnish
- White onion, chopped, for garnish
- Cilantro, for garnish
Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over high heat. Add the pasillas and toast, pressing them down with a spatula and turning once, until pliable and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with the water. Let stand for about 30 minutes, until the pasillas are completely rehydrated.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet, roast the tomatoes and garlic over high heat until charred, about 12 minutes. Transfer the rehydrated pasillas to a blender and add 1 cup of their soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, then strain through a coarse sieve into a bowl.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pasilla purée and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep red and reduced nearly to a paste, about 15 minutes.
Peel the roasted garlic and add it to the blender along with the tomatoes. Purée until smooth, then strain through a coarse sieve into the skillet with the pasilla paste. Bring to a boil. Simmer the salsa over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm.
In another large skillet, heat the remaining oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the pasilla salsa and bring to a simmer. Add the crushed tortilla chips and cook, tossing, for 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter or plates and garnish with queso fresco, crema, chopped onion, and cilantro. Serve right away.