Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros is one of those dishes that appears more often on Canadian menus than those in Mexico. It comes in all sorts of styles, eggs on top of corn or flour tortillas, garnished with different kinds of cheese, usually cheap cheddar, and/or an overdose of sour cream, beans and often canned tomato salsa. The overdose part is what I can’t stand about how Mexican cuisine is interpreted once it leaves its country. Corn kernels added to everything, sour cream, especially applied with a squeeze bottle, and raw onion, the worst, all tenets of what gives Mexican cuisine a bad name.
With good ingredients and little finesse – as in, less is sometimes more – this breakfast dish is easy to pull together, wonderfully delicious and deeply satisfying. No corn kernels need apply. And I think we’re all evolved enough to call this ranchero sauce, not ranch sauce.
Ripe red tomatoes are important, but seeing how this is March on the westcoast and the rain has been relentless, I chose the ripest imports I can buy and roast them for extra depth of flavour. So too, the jalapenos, for an earthier end product.

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You can make this sauce without the roasting, just make sure you fry and season it once the ingredients have been blended. It not only mellows the sharpness of the tomatoes and jalapenos but thickens the sauce to the right consistency for your eggs and tortillas. (You’ll also find that roasting chiles and frying and seasoning them produces an even chile heat). I used goat cheese for the garnish, but a Mexican queso fresco is also delicious, as is crumbled feta. Slices of avocado are also good and if you’re really hungry by all means serve up some soupy black beans. It’s beautiful thing.

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Ranchero Sauce
(Makes approx. 1 3/4 cups)

1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, roasted
3 jalapenos, roasted, peeled, stemmed, and seeded only if you desire a mildly spiced sauce
1/4 piece of a white onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt to taste

Corn tortillas, two per person
Eggs, fried or poached
Garnish: crumbled cheese and sprigs of cilantro

Heat a dry comal or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and roast the tomatoes and chiles until evenly charred. Observe how the chiles change colour from bright to a dull army green. Scrape off as much of the charred peel of the jalapenos as possible – don’t obsess –  stem them, and decide if you’re going to remove the seeds or not. Try scraping out half if you’re not sure. In a blender, add the coarsely chopped garlic and onion, the chiles and the tomatoes and pulse until the ingredients are blended but still maintain some texture.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the blended sauce and fry, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce reduce for 15 to 20 minutes until the flavours meld and the sauce is thickened. Adjust salt.

To Assemble

Heat corn tortillas on a dry skillet or comal. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a bit of oil and fry the eggs until the yolks turn an opaque colour. Add hot tortillas to a plate, overlapping them. Add eggs and spoon the hot ranchero sauce over the eggs. Garnish with cheese and cilantro. Buen provecho!

 



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