This morning I'm going to walk you through the preparation of one of my staple meals: huevos rancheros. But first, let me start with a monumentally important caveat. This is not by any means an "authentic" recipe. Like all good Latin dishes, it's warm, colorful, and flavorful, but it's still the kind of adaptation that leads my Spanish in-laws to lovingly call me a "gringa." For a more authentic version, substitute a good quality queso blanco for the cheddar jack cheese and use fresh jalapenos in the place of the Sriracha sauce.
Now that I've gotten that disclaimer out of the way, I'm going to take a minute to sing the praises of huevos rancheros as a concept. This is a meal designed to sustain hard-working ranchers through a day that starts and ends with the sun. It is hearty, hits most of the major food groups, and has just the right amount of flavor to wake up my palette (and the rest of me) at any hour. This, as far as I'm concerned, is important feature of the dish, because it's my go-to weekday morning meal, and I'm usually half asleep when I'm making it. In addition to non-traditional cheese and chile choices, I rely on a few pre-made ingredients to speed up the prep time and help me get out the door on time every time. I also omit the traditionally used beans (and sometimes rice) for a lighter breakfast that won't fill me up so much that I need a nap by 10am.
- 1 roma/plum tomato
- 1/4 ripe haas avocado
- 1/2 tsp jarred minced garlic or 1/2 clove fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp mild pre-made salsa
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 large flour tortilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
- Sriracha to your desired heat level
- A dollop of butter for the pan
- Salt and pepper
Start by dicing a roma tomato and adding it to a medium-sized bowl. I prefer this varietal for huevos rancheros because it is firm not too watery.
Next, add 1 tbsp pre-made mild salsa of your choice. I don't have a default brand, I usually just buy whatever is on sale when I'm at the grocery. This is my "secret" time-saver for the dish, because it's the best of both worlds. You get the complex flavor of a proper salsa without spending all that time chopping peppers, onions, and garlic, but you still get the freshness of the ripe tomato.
Next, add in 1/2 tsp pre-minced garlic. Here again I rely on a ready-to-use ingredient, because it saves me time and because my hands won't smell like garlic for the rest of the day. If you are dead set on using fresh ingredients, mince only 1/2 to 1 clove of fresh garlic, because it is much more potent than pre-minced garlic.
Sprinkle in 1/4 tsp cumin, and stir to combine.
Mmmmm, looking good.
Next up is my very favorite ingredient on the planet (yes, the whole planet!): avocado. Fun trivia fact- I used to hate avocado when I was little, because I was crazy. It was textural thing* which I luckily evolved beyond. For this dish, pit 1/4 of a haas avocado and slice thinly.
*If you have a problem with the texture of avocado but still enjoy the taste, dice it and throw it into your salsa instead- the tomato can help to mask the inherent sliminess.
Quickly chop 1/2 tsp fresh cilantro so you will have it ready to use as a garnish later.
Next, warm a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and lightly toast your tortilla. You don't need to turn it into tortilla chips, you just want it warmed and with a slight crunch. Remove the tortilla when it's ready, but leave the already warm pan on the burner so you can use it to quickly cook the eggs.
Next, get your eggs... Oh no! I'm down to my last two! Luckily you only need two for this recipe, but in my household, this is considered a family disaster. Who was responsible for putting eggs on the shopping list? Oh right, me...
Before you put the eggs in the pan, take the time to measure out your cheese and have it ready to go, because you'll need it in the very next step. Then take your last two eggs (eek!) and cook them over-easy or sunny-side-up in some butter. I prefer over-easy because I like the whites of my eggs to be just firm. Season with salt and pepper, or seasoned salt.
If you are cooking sunny-side-up, you'll want to sprinkle the cheese over the eggs as soon as the whites are no longer translucent. If you are using my preferred over-easy method, top the eggs with cheese as soon as you flip them, and you should have just enough time/residual heat to melt the cheese before they are finished cooking. Keep in mind, though, that the priority is a beautifully golden, runny yolk, so if your eggs start to overcook and the cheese isn't melted yet, go ahead and remove them from the heat.
Have your Sriracha sauce (or jalepeno) at the ready!
Compose your dish with the tortilla and cheesy eggs as the base, then top with avocado, salsa, cilantro, and Sriracha sauce to your preferred heat level. Roll 'em up and enjoy!
A quick and important note about working with pre-made salsas- they're usually watery. Before you use your salsa mixture in your huevos rancheros, do your best to remove any additional liquid or your tortilla will be mush.
Make sure you have lots of napkins ready- the perfect huevos rancheros will pop with yolk by about your third bite. Mmmmmm.
In huevos rancheros, as in life, don't be afraid to admit your mistakes and adjust your seasoning half way through. In this case, by "adjust" I mean "add way more Sriracha."
Yep, that should be enough to keep me awake until at least noon. :)