Pour 6 tablespoons of the remaining oil into the skillet and return to the heat. When quite hot (drop a stray noodle in—it should sizzle but not brown immediately), lay in about 1/3 of the noodle nests to fry until noticeably browned, about 1 minute, then flip and brown the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible back into the skillet, and drain on paper towels. Continue until all have been browned
Add the noodles. In about 2 minutes pull the "nests" apart (they'll have softened enough to do it at this point), then add the zucchini and the chorizo (if you're using it). Simmer, stirring occasionally until the noodles are tender but still firm, about 2 minutes
If using the cream, add it now, raise the heat to medium-high and boil quickly until the sauce returns to its previous consistency. Taste again and readjust the salt if necessary.
Stir in half of the grated cheese, scoop into a warm serving dish, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and the cilantro garnish, and it's ready to serve.
Making 2 cups of Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce—For dried chiles, toast them on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning regularly and pressing flat with a spatula, unil very aromatic, about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and rehydrate 30 minutes stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water. (Canned chiles need only to be removed from their sauce.)
Roast the unpeeled garlic on the griddle or skillet, turning occasionally, until soft (they will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes: cool and peel. Roast 1 1/2 pounds of the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes, then flip and roast the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
In a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes and their juices, rehydrated or canned chiles and garlic to a medium-fine purée. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy medium size (4 quart) pot (such as a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela.
Advanced preparation—The dish can be prepared a day or two ahead through step 2. Refrigerate the sauce and chorizo, covered, and leave the noodles at room temperature.
Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
by Rick Bayless
Photographs by Maria Robledo
Reprinted with permission