Huevos Rancheros: Digging into a bit of breakfast heaven.
I have to admit - I have never eaten huevos rancheros before this morning. I'm actually a little nervous about this post because I can claim no expertise or experience with the dish other than seeing what other people make and eat. Nevertheless, this morning I woke up crazy hungry, made my morning latte, and scoured the fridge for ingredients to make breakfast. Leftover salsa and refried beans stared me in the face and I knew that this would be the morning I would tackle huevos rancheros.
When it comes to improvisational cooking, it helps to be flexible and not bothered with perfection. I made huevos rancheros for myself, just one person, and made it up as I went along. If I had planned on making huevos rancheros, or were making them for guests, etc, I would have made my own salsa and had appropriate shredded cheese as well as fresh cilantro at the ready. In the case of this morning, I whipped together breakfast using leftover cheese slices, no fresh cilantro, and store-bought salsa. The end result was delicious, satisfying, and left little to be desired. So feel free to go as personal and made from scratch with this dish as you please, I probably will the next time as well, but do not be deterred by using all store-bough or leftover ingredients. Your huevos rancheros will be delicious either way.
I started this morning by making my corn tortillas. 1/3 cup of masa harina mixed with 1/3 cup hot water and a pinch of salt makes just enough dough for exactly 2 corn tortillas. So I followed my standard tortilla process - mix the masa with hot water, let it sit for 30 minutes (while I took my shower) then roll into 2 balls, flattening with a pie plate in a large ziplock bag.
At this point, you'll want to preheat your oven to 250 F and place an oven safe plate inside to get nice and toasty. Preheat a cast iron skillet, then pop the tortilas, one at a time, on to cook. It takes just a minute or two per side. When your tortillas are done, place them on the plate, slather with refried beans, cover with cheese (I used deli-sliced cheese), and place them back in the oven to warm through while you get to the eggs.
Using your now pre-heated skillet, toss in a pat of butter and once it melts (it goes really quick) crack 2 eggs into the pan. They will start bubbling and frying immediately. I like my whites set and my yolks runny, but I have a tendency to break the yolks if I try to flip my eggs, so I use this little trick common in diners and restaurants across the country - ladle a little water (just a tblsp or 2) or an ice cube into the pan next to the eggs then cover. The steam will cook the top while the bottom fries, and you end up with perfectly runny yolks and set whites. This does go quickly, so keep your eyes on it.
Place the eggs on top of the beans/cheese, place the whole thing back in the oven, and dollop a few spoonfuls of salsa into the pan. In less than a minute, the salsa will be hot and bubbling. Spoon the hot salsa over the eggs and dig in.
My favorite part, the runny yolk.
My improvised huevos rancheros were so good, I have no idea why I never made them before. I'll definitely be making them again. The corn base gives it substance, and the creamy richness of the beans, cheese and eggs is unctuous and so rich, perfectly cut by the twang and heat of the salsa. It is a perfect breakfast or brunch dish.