The name chilaquiles (sometimes spelled "chilequiles") is derived from the word chil-a-quilitl which means "herbs or greens in chili broth" [In Nahuatl] or "a broken-up old, sombrero".
As with most dishes there are regional versions. In Sinaloa, Mexico the chilaquiles are prepared with a white sauce.
Mexico City is known for using a spicy tomato sauce and always tops each serving with an ample sprig of epazote.
In Guadalajara cazuelas are kept simmering filled with chilaquiles that become thick in texture similar to polenta.
Depending on the dish the tortillas are cut in strips or broken into pieces and topped with a sauce or layered, casserole style. Chilaquiles are frequently eaten as a breakfast food. One traditional variation mixes the tortillas strips with freshly scrambled eggs and roasted chiles.
In a blender purée the tomatoes with the onion, the garlic, and the chilies. In a large skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, add the tomato purée, and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper.
In a skillet heat 1/2 inch of the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, in it fry the tortillas in batches for 10 to 20 seconds, or until they are pale golden and almost crisp, and transfer them as they are fried with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. In a bowl stir together the tomato sauce, the broth, and the chilies. In a greased 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish layer the tortillas, the Monterey Jack, and the tomato sauce, beginning with a layer of the tortillas and ending with a layer of the Monterey Jack, and bake the chilaquiles, covered with foil, in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 minutes. Drizzle the crema over the chilaquiles and serve.