easy chalakiles

i don't really cook many local chamoru dishes at home because there are so many people i know who cook them better than i do, and are quite generous about sharing. the food is generally simple, relying on what is fresh from the land and sea. much of what you'll see in chamoru cuisine is influenced by the early spanish and portuguese explorers and the techniques and some of the ingredients they brought from the americas. one of my favourite dishes is chalakiles, a stew usually made from chicken, toasted ground rice, coconut milk, and coloured with achote, or annatto seed.


i don't really know the origins of this dish. i do know that during world war 2, rice was in short supply, so many dishes were created to extend the amount of rice in a meal; however, i suspect that the origins of this stew go much further, as the flavour and cooking technique is similar to pozole, a pre-columbian stew made from hominy or a lime-treated dried corn kernel known as maiz blanco, pork, and chili. in fact, the story goes that pozole was created in honour of the arrival of the conquistadores at tonalá, mexico by their queen, cihualpilli. cihualpilli, chalakiles...similar ring to it, no? well, whatever, that might be a stretch. (and the stuff they served to the spaniards? that was long pig, not regular pig in there.)

anyway. many people won't make chalakiles because they believe you still have to toast the rice grains and then grind them down, which can be quite tedious; also, because stewing chicken is often used, and it takes several hours to cook it until it's tender. the version i make was borne from the fact that our family roasts a lot of turkeys (maybe once or twice a month)--since i cook the bird in one of those roasting bags, i often have quite a lot of roasting juices and meat left on the carcass which would otherwise go to waste. it's a good way to make use of any poultry carcass you may have on hand, and economical--aside from the achote, it is very much a 'make something out of nothing' sort of dish. since time is always a problem, this is another one of my crock pot/slow cooker specialties; just bung all the ingredients in the pot, and dinner's done. also, instead of going through the rigamarole of toasting and grinding rice, i just use cream of rice cereal, and toast it in the microwave. really. it works. the flavours are mild but the dish itself is hearty--it's a nice mix of meaty broth, nutty rice, and sweet coconut, along with the other mellowed out spices.

crockpot chalakiles

roasted turkey or chicken carcass, with some meat still on the bones
water, stock or roast juices, enough to cover the bones

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 chili peppers, chopped finely
1/2 cup of achote water (made by soaking achote seeds in water) or liquid achote, as needed (i use liquid, obvs)

1 cup cream of rice

1 can coconut milk

place the carcass into a crock pot, and cover with liquid of choice. let simmer until the meat comes off the bone. carefully remove all the bones from the pot, leaving the meat and liquid. add the onion, garlic, chilis, and achote water to the pot, and cover.

place the cream of rice in a dry pan, and toast over medium-high heat or place it in a microwave safe container (i suggest using a pyrex-type measuring cup). heat on high for 5-6 minutes. carefully remove the container with oven-proof mitts and swirl it gently; as the rice separates and dries out, it will begin to brown. continue swirling until it is uniformly toasty brown. leave to cool.

once the rice has cooled (don't add it hot! believe me, it's not fun), add it carefully to the pot, and cover. leave the crockpot on low, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and has softened (1-2 hours). prior to serving, add the coconut milk, and allow the mixture to warm through.


Thanks for schooling me on Chalakiles. The name sounds like the Mexican dish Chilaquiles and they have some similarities.
THis sounds great.

This looks so good. I could use a bowl right about now.

MMmmmm...chalakiles! brings back the good ole days when the lunch ladies would serve that up in our school cafeteria (even thought it wasn't THAT good, somehow it was still kind of yummy and comforting in a soul food kinda way.) you know, what this dish really reminds me of is the filling inside a chamorro empanada. warm, savory, ricey (is that a word?) and just plain good.

hi rani! you know, every time i have chilaquiles they are prepared differently. they usually have the same ingredients--corn tortillas and soupy veggies--but sometimes it's a soup, sometimes it's more like a lasagna, and once it was even scrambled with eggs! i would like to know more about chilaquiles.

hiya, tokyoastrogirl--perfect for that chilly la weather you're experiencing!

hi leannia! thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. chalakiles are actually what most people use to fill their empanadas. i should actually try that sometime. deep-frying, yay!

I really like that you post the Chamorro dishes. Keep up the fantastic work. I grew up there and find myself really missing the food.

This dish really intrigues me...you know I'm a sucker for making something out of nothing ;-) Now if only I knew where to find cream of rice. I'll have to do some research on that...

I can't wait to try this recipe for chalakiles...I LOVE making chilaquiles. It's one of my favorite Mexican dishes to make, mainly because it is so versatile and easy! Chilaquiles, as I know them, are breakfast food. They are a good way to put to use the the leftover corn tortillas served with dinner - the Mexican's fork. I make it with scrambled eggs only when I make it for my daughter. I leave out the chile because she doesn't like it spicy. For me, the spicier, the better. Add queso fresco and lots of crema...yum! Sarah

there are so many things to love about this entry, this blog ... the education, the graceful writing, the allure of the food, the anyway in italics. xxs and oos 2 U

I haven't had keleguen in such a long time. Could you do a keleguen fest? Spam, shrimp, chicken etc....

Hello, I'm from Guam and I stumbled onto your blog and saw the word "Chalakiles" and thought "Hey, that sounds familiar!" Hafa Adai to you! Great recipe. I miss chalakiles in Empanadas too! Basically, I miss Guam food!

BTW, I'm in NYC and haven't had much chamorro food here. It is always comforting to see familiar Guam things every now and then. Great site!

hi anon! glad you could come by. i should be making some kelaguen soon!

jmom--cream of rice is in the breakfast cereals aisle, usually next to cream of wheat. this is something that tastes better the next day, which is good, because the recipe makes a lot!

anon--the spicier the better for me too! chilaquiles for breakfast sounds so goooood.

aww, tg, you are sweet. xxs and oos 2 U 2

gia, soon, i promise!

hafa adai, deborah! ah, that sucks, no chamorro food for miles and miles. thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment, i appreciate it!