Happy Meal: Huevos Rancheros

It’s Cinco de Mayo here in Texas, and today I’ve had a hankering for Huevos Rancheros, those popular eggs served in restaurants with a spicy tomato-pepper sauce atop corn tortillas.  Since I’m a northerner and my time-worn California recipe likely needs a bit of tweaking, I decided to cook the Ranchero Salsa similar to the way I prepare my Colorado Sauce (pureed dried red peppers sauteed in oil).

Rather than beginning with the typical sofrito style of dicing the vegetables, sautéing them in oil, and then adding the tomatoes, I’ve eliminated all of those steps and streamlined the process.  Instead, I first gave those same ingredients a quick whirl in the blender (except the garlic).  I heated up the sauce pan with a dash of oil, quickly sautéed the garlic with a bit of cumin to soften their flavors, then poured in the lightly pureed tomato mixture.  This simmered unattended for 10 – 15 minutes to thicken and round off any rough edges.  Results:  an easy, bright and lively sauce.

HuevosRancheros 2

 

I suspect purists would say, serve the refried beans on the side, but I enjoy my Huevos Rancheros with tender-crisp tortillas smeared with hot refried beans and a bit of melting cheese, then topped with the fried egg and finished with the glorious Ranchero Salsa.  You decide where the sauce should go: under the egg, over it—or both?

Whatever your choice, you can have your Happy Meal on the table within 30 minutes.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Huevos Rancheros

  • Ranchero Salsa (follows)
  • 1 – 2 eggs per person, see below for cooking tips
  • 2 corn tortillas per person, fried or warmed
  • Refried beans (your choice)
  • Optional garnishes:   crumbled queso fresco or other grated cheese, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced, assorted hot sauces

Ranchero Salsa

  • 14 oz can chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • ½ medium yellow onion, or 4 large green onions chopped
  • 2 serrano or chipotles chiles stemmed, seeded if desired, and chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded if desired and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  1.  For the sauce  In a blender or food processor combine tomatoes, onion, peppers, a dash of salt and pepper,  and pulse until it forms a loose puree.  In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat; add the cumin, then stir in the garlic and heat until aromatic. Pour in the pureed ingredients and simmer 10-15 minutes, until it reduces slightly.  Adjust seasoning.
  2. For tortillas  Fry the corn tortillas in enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a small skillet over medium-high.  Add the tortillas one at a time, cooking on both sides.  For soft tortillas, cook less than one minute per side; for crisp tortillas, fry one minute or longer per side, until crisp and brown. To steam tortillas, wrap and stack of tortillas in moist toweling and heat in the microwave for about one minute.  To grill tortillas, toast on grill top until well marked, 1-2 minutes per side—especially good if you have access to freshly made tortillas.
  3.  To assemble the Huevos Rancheros:  place 2 heated tortillas on a plate and spread with Ranchero Salsa. Top each with an egg.  Garnish with cheese, more sauce and/or cilantro.  Pass a selection of hot sauces and jalapeno peppers, sliced.

 About Fried Eggs

For 1 or 2 eggs, heat a small skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 – 2 tsp butter, olive oil, or bacon grease until it bubbles and cook according to following preferences:

Fried Egg   Break the egg into the pan and cook until the egg white sets and it is opaque.

Basted Egg   Spoon a bit of the hot butter or oil over the top of the egg, basting until the yolk is set, its color softens, and it is opaque.

Sunny-side Up Egg  When the egg white begins to set add a teaspoon of water to the pan; cover it with a lid to create enough steam to set and change the yolk to a lighter opaque color.

Over-easy Egg  Cook until the egg begins to hold its shape in the pan and the white is opaque, then turn it with a spatula and cook a minute longer.

Over-hard Egg   Cook as for over-easy egg but break the yolk before turning, then allow the yolk to cook until well-done.

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