Like migas? Try these smoky chicken chilaquiles from Marcela Valladolid

This is a big time for graduates. No matter if you’re leaving high school or college, graduation means a step away from one world and into another, and if you don’t know how to cook for yourself, that transition is going to be even more difficult.

In the coming Wednesday food section, we have a handful of stories for cooks who are just getting started on their own. If that’s you, hopefully you’ve had a chance to fire up an oven or stove at least a few times in your life so you don’t have to rely on eating out.

Food Network host Marcela Valladolid has a new book called “Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias” that is packed with helpful tutorials for Mexican-American basics that you’ll be serving for years to come.

Chilaquiles are a comforting dish, no matter what you serve them with. In this version, Food Network host Marcela Valladolid roasts chicken and tomatoes together before making a chipotle sauce to toss with the fresh tortilla chips. Contributed by Coral Von Zumwalt

Migas might be more well-known in Austin, but if you swap salsa for the eggs, you’ll make chilaquiles, a close cousin. With both dishes, the key is to crisp up the tortillas without burning them. This recipe calls for roasting the chicken and the tomatoes for the sauce together, but you could use a store-bought salsa and pre-cooked chicken breasts if you’re just getting started.

Chipotle and Shredded-Chicken Chilaquiles

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved
1 white onion, halved
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
10 corn tortillas, cut into eighths, preferably stale (spread out to dry overnight)
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
2 thin slices onion, separated into rings
1/2 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the tomatoes, onion halves and garlic on half of the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Toss to combine. Place the chicken breasts on the other half of the same pan, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and some pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are slightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic. Transfer the tomatoes, onion and peeled garlic to a blender and add the chicken broth, chipotle chili and adobo sauce. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

After letting them cool for a bit, place the chicken breasts on a work surface and shred, using two forks or your fingers, into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil into a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tortilla pieces, working in two or three batches, and cook until lightly browned on both sides and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Drain the tortillas on paper towels and discard the remaining oil. Wipe the pan with a paper towel.

In the same pan, bring the salsa from the blender to a simmer over low heat. Add the shredded chicken and fried tortillas and cook until soft but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture among four individual dishes. Top with the cheese and onion. Drizzle with the crema, sprinkle with some chopped fresh cilantro, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

— From “Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias” by Marcela Valladolid (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)

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