I am a huge fan of eggs. Especially spicy ones. When I joined Instagram three years ago, I was a beginner home cook who ate the same scrambled eggs with Sriracha sauce every day. Don’t get me wrong—I loved them. But as the saying goes: variety is the spice of life. I was so ready to spice it up.
The great thing about the inter-webs is that you are exposed to different cultures of places you’ve never been to. I spent a lot of time browsing the various ways of cooking breakfast eggs. Enter: huevos rancheros. Breakfast food with Mexican flavours! I was captivated. As someone whose goal is to travel to every country in the world, I’m sure I will travel to Mexico in the not-too-distant future. Until then, I will pretend to be cultured as I whip up the most flaming huevos you have ever had.
Recently, I made my first corn tortillas by hand (see my first blog post for details). My huevos rancheros recipe is now complete.
Like many dishes, I don’t think there is a “right” way to make huevos rancheros. This is just the way I have developed the dish after trying a few recipes, with the ingredients that I have available to me. You will need to buy two canned goods from the Mexican section of the international foods aisle: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and refried beans (or make your own—but I find store-bought tastes just as good and unlike most things…this is a corner I am willing to cut). These items should be available at most grocery stores.
In the canned tomatoes section, you will find ground/puréed tomatoes. Choose the one without added salt so that you can control the sodium content. I have used diced tomatoes in the past, which work just as well, depending on if you’re in a chunky mood or a smooth mood. I was in a smooth mood. You can choose either with this recipe. I would recommend the smooth option only if you have a hand-held immersion blender. I’ve tried using my food processor before and it did not go well (very messy).
Spice it up: I put four different types of chili peppers in this sauce (chipotle, fresh jalapeño, red jalapeño flakes, and ground ají panca). I like to incorporate spices I’ve acquired while traveling, combining multiple whenever possible. It is my way of expressing that emotion which only a Portuguese word—saudade—can describe accurately. I derive great pleasure living vicariously through my past self with my tastebuds.
I used crushed red jalapeños that I bought at the Turkish Market in Berlin and ground ají panca (a smoky flavoured chili) from Cusco, Peru. Feel free to use any variety of ground chilies. Ancho or guajillo chilis would go particularly nicely in this dish.
Can’t forget my Greek oregano from Athens, where I bought half a kilo for 1 euro—now almost finished, like an hourglass whose end might signal my return to Greece.
Huevos rancheros is supposed to be comfort food. As such, I prefer to lightly fry the corn tortillas in a shallow puddle of oil. This gives it a nice crispy crunch and holds well under the saucy sauce.
Then, the eggs are fried in the same oil because why waste.
Warning: get the tissue box ready, because this recipe is meant to make your nostrils cry. If you are not as crazy about the fiery heat as I am, then adjudicate the hot stuff accordingly.
Full Recipe: Huevos Rancheros
Serves 3 heartily
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground chili (e.g., ancho, guajillo, cayenne, etc.)
1 fresh jalapeño, finely diced
6 whole chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of sauce from the can
1 can (796 mL) crushed or diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 can (546 mL) refried pinto beans (or homemade!)
6 store-bought or homemade corn tortillas (recipe can be found here)
1 medium ripe avocado, sliced
1 lime, in wedges
1 cup cilantro with stems, finely chopped
salt to taste
- Heat a medium saucepan on medium. When hot, add about 1 tablespoon of oil and wait for it to heat up. Add the onions, a pinch of salt, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and the chopped jalapeño (reserve some if you want to sprinkle at the end for extra punch) and stir until garlic is lightly browned and onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Then, add the crushed red pepper flakes, ground chili, and a small amount of oil (to prevent burning) and stir for about 30 seconds, until the fragrant aromas are released. Add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes (approx. 1/2 of the can—save the rest in a jar for another dish) , oregano and bring to a simmer. Add pinches of salt, to taste. Turn heat down to low.
- If you are in a smooth AF mood, get out your hand-held immersion blender and whiz that shit up right there in the saucepan. If you are in a chunky mood, skip this step.
- In a small saucepan, empty out the can of refried beans and add 1/4 cup of water. Stir together to form a smooth consistency, adding more water if it is too dry. Heat while stirring occasionally on medium-high. When it starts bubbling, turn heat down to low and keep warm.
- As you are doing Step 3, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high. Add enough oil to cover the skillet bottom completely. When hot, working in batches, add the corn tortillas and shallow fry, about 1 minute per side, until golden. Transfer on to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Turn the heat on the skillet to the lowest setting. Remove skillet from heat for a moment so eggs won’t fry too quickly. Crack the eggs into the oil and move the skillet back over the burner when cooled slightly. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and fry sunny side up, until whites are opaque.
- Plate the fried corn tortillas first (2 per serving), then the fried eggs (2 per serving). Top the egg whites with the sauce, cilantro, and optional extra chopped jalapeño. Serve with a dollop of refried beans, avocado, and a wedge of lime. Prepare your sinuses and devour.