Doing Justice to Huevos Rancheros

My abuelita Clementina, after whom I was named, was a very dignified woman with a clear sense of propriety. So strong was her abhorrence of anything remotely vulgar, that the word huevo (egg) never escaped her lips lest it drew chuckles from the male population. Blanquillo ("little white one") was her euphemism of choice. And if you are wondering why the male population would chuckle at something as innocuous as an egg. . . well, go ask your abuelo, because, you won't hear it from me.

Perhaps my abuelita Clementina would have been glad that I am writing about Huevos Rancheros, because if there is any Mexican dish that has suffered on its trip northward, this is most certainly it. It goes without saying that most restaurant style Huevos Rancheros are nothing more than a gussied-up version of nachos with rubbery overly cooked eggs attached. If you can feel my righteous indignation oozing off this post, then you are absolutely right. It is as bad as taking a fresh-faced rancherita—a sweet country girl—and making her up to look like a payasa—a painted clown.
Huevos Rancheros conjures up the image of rustic freshness—a cooked salsa made from cooked or, in this case, oven roasted vine ripened tomatoes, chiles, garlic and onions, bright with the taste of their own natural sweetness counterbalanced with a slight undertone of charred smokiness. It means eggs so fresh that they are still warm from lying beneath the little butts of the hens that laid them. And corn tortillas fried up not too soggy or too crisp, but just right. In short, the way Huevos Rancheros were meant to be: a beguiling combination of heat-sweet-tanginess, a rich creaminess together with crunchability, perfect whether you are eating them para el almuerzo—for a late breakfast, or if you are frying some up for dinner, especially if you want to eat something hearty but fast and simple to make.
As for this classic Mexican dish, wouldn't you say it is time to take it back, rescuing it from the disgusting nacho mess it has become, and cooking some Huevos Rancheros your dignified abuelita would be proud of?
You can bet your blanquillos that I would.

Huevos Rancheros With Roasted Tomato Salsa
Or, How to Fry An Egg (For Those Who Don't Know How)


Using a molcajete to crush the ingredients makes the most authentic and best salsa. Nothing can duplicate its flavor or texture--period. Also, I respectfully disagree with Cook's Magazine, from which I very loosely adapted the salsa recipe: If you want keep the rustic charm of this salsa, do not core the tomatoes or remove the seeds as some European trained cooks are apt to do. My Mexican mother never did this and neither should you. As for the jalapeño or serrano chiles, use as much or as little as you can bear.


Ingredients:

Roasted Tomato Salsa (recipe to follow)
eggs
corn tortillas
any vegetable oil
butter (optional)

Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe:

Ingredients:

6 to 8 ripe medium to large tomatoes, cut in half
about a 1/3 of an onion
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, whole or seeded, depending how hot you want the salsa
1 fresh serano or jalapeno, finely minced
2 or 3 cloves garlic in their skins.
oregano to taste
ground cumin to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Making the Salsa:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and give it a light brushing of vegetable oil. Put the onion, garlic cloves, the chiles, and the tomatoes, cut side down on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet on the lower rack of your oven and roast for about one-half hour, or until you see that the tomatoes are "melted" and cooking in their own juices. The tops should be brown, but not burned to the ground. Remove them from the oven at once. Peel the garlic.

MOLCAJETE METHOD: (Don't have a molcajete? Go to Mi Tiendita—My Little Kitchen Store and buy yourself one!)
Take the onion, chiles and garlic, and crush them to a pulp. If your molcajete is small, scrape off the onion-chile mixture and set itaside. Next crush all of the tomatoes. There should be no large pieces of tomato peel. Scrape off the crushed tomatoes and mix with the onion-chile mixture until well blended.


FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD: Pulse the onion, chiles and garlic into small chunks. Set aside. Do the same for the tomatoes. Do not over process. Mix the tomatoes and onion-chile mixture together.
Add the fresh minced chile to the salsa. Whether you want to seed the chile before you mince it is up to you.
Next: add salt, pepper, oregano and ground cumin to taste. If the salsa is not acidy enough for you, you can add a little squirt of lime juice.
Refrigerate the salsa overnight until the next morning. Reheat and keep warm until ready to serve. If the salsa is a little too thick, just add a little water.
FRYING THE TORTILLAS & EGGS FOR HUEVOS RANCHEROS:
Heat a skillet over a medium flame for about a minute. Add vegetable oil to a depth of ¼ inch and wait until you see the oil start to shimmer. Drop a teeny piece of corn tortilla into the skillet. If it sizzles, then it is ready to fry.
Fry two tortillas on one side for 30 seconds. Flip them on the other side and fry them until they are nice and toasty on the bottom. Remove them and lay them on paper towels to absorb excess oil. (You can also oven fry the tortillas if you want, but it is not my favorite method for Huevos Rancheros.) Lower the heat to medium low. Add some butter to the skillet if you want. When the butter starts to foam, break 2 eggs into the skillet. Try to baste a little of the oil over the eggs if you can. You can salt the eggs at this point if you wish.Cover the skillet with a lid and lower the heat to low. The lid will reflect the heat back to the top of the eggs. After a minute or two, remove the lid. The egg whites should be opaque and firm to your liking; the yokes should look nice and shiny. If they are not, then put the lid back on the skillet until the eggs are done to your taste. Remove the skillet from the heat. Shake the eggs until they start to slide around. Then, tilt the pan and slide the eggs onto a plate over the layered corn tortillas. If you prefer, you can turn your eggs. Just make sure the spatula is supporting the yolk(s) before flipping it over. Turn off the heat, wait some seconds, and then slide the eggs off the pan.
Spoon some of the warm tomato salsa evenly over the eggs. Serve with some hearty refried beans that are topped off with a bit of stinky Mexican style cheese like that stinky-feet but utterly delicious Zacatecas-style cheese or maybe some mild Queso Fresco. Serves one.

21 comments:

Delphyne said...

This looks delicious, particularly the salsa! I have not had good Huevos Rancheros in years - that soon will end with this recipe.

Gloria said...

Sounds and looks so good. I have my tomatoes, chile's, onions, garlic ready to go in the oven. Then....my arthritis in my knees started acting up so I went to lay down. I'm back up again and I'll put them in the oven, not my knees...tee hee...and then I'll drink a beer. What the heck. Great post, great pictures. Have a great weekend

Doña Licha (Alex Ramos) said...

Me diste hambre! Great post! Now I know what I am making for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Provecho!

Tsimajo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clementina said...

Hola, Dona Licha,
I hope you'll like the huevitos!

Hola, Tsimajo,
Now more than ever is the time to learn and to apply the lessons are elders have taught us.

Hasta la proxi!

Vivi said...

Looks like we have our dinner picked out for this evening. I already had some frijoles de la hoja going. ;)

Clementina said...

Bienvenida, Vivi!
Ay, mujer, frijoles de la hoya. Como me encantan--how i love them so.
Enjoyed reading your thought provoking websites.

Jan said...

De veras, tienes razon about Huevos Rancheros. Yours look absolutely perfect and delicious. I'm making your salsa next weekend. Great post!

EL CHAVO! said...

I love Blanquillos Rancheros! ;) I don't understand the tomato deseeding either, that's kinda weird.

Here's my recipe, i like to use a bit of guajillos in the salsa to give it some depth of flavor.
http://chanfles.com/comida/hrs/index.html
Saludos!

Mummy D said...

Looks great - sounds fun to make tambien. I need to find a spare molcajete at my mamita's then I can attempt to make my favourite Mexican breakfast - Huevos Rancheros yay!

Clementina said...

Hola, Jan!
I hope you'll like the recipe. There are many receipes for this salsa, and I think that EL CHAVO's is very good,too.

Hola CHAVITO,
That salsa for Huevos Rancheros looks delicious! Pero . . . para decirte the verdad--to tell you the truth, there is no vegan equivalent for Huevos Rancheros. No use messing around with a masterpiece. Buen provecho!

Hola, Mummy D
I hope your mom is willing to part with the molcajete!

kobico said...

Los huevos me encantan! You make perfect fried eggs, Clementina. I always break the yolks!

Clementina said...

Hola, Kobico!
Honestly, Kobico, I have broken my share of yolks, which is fine with me. I really prefer them broken and almost burned.
Nice to hear from you!

Mary said...

These really look delicious. This is my first visit to your blog and I've spent some time going through your earlier posts. I love your recipes and the tone of your blog. I'll be back often to see what else you've been cooking. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

checking in every day looking for a new post hope you have a new one for us soon love your blog cant get enough of it ...

Clementina said...

Hola, Anonymous!
Thank you for your kind words. Next on the menu: Tres Leches Cake!

Ryan said...

I have added you to my site: TinoLinks » Latino and Hispanic blogs. The best blogs. I hope that it will generate more traffic to your site and expose all of the great Latino voices out there.


All the best,


Ryan
http://tinolinks.com

Leticia said...

Leticia said..Thank you, Clemintina, I never thought in my life, that I would be so honorably
mention.. 40 years of marriage!
I feel so proud to be included along with my mother and father.
Thank you...

DodgerFanInRdg said...

I have a question, por favor, Dona. Can you roast all of the vegetables on the comal (I have my mother's comal that my father made almost 60 years ago!) or is the oven method preferred for this ranchera salsa? Pase buen dia, Dona!

Clementina said...

Hola, DodgerFan!
I roasted all my my vegetables on my comal, but I promise that it is never going to be as special as yours. I like to add a tiny bit of oil to the hot comal. It keeps the vegetables, esp. the tomatoes from sticking.
Cuidate, and don't invite me to your house--I just might steal that comal!

glutster said...

blanquillos! jajaja.

I remember when I first went to go visit my mom's padrinos and they asked me if I wanted some.

I was like "que es eso"!?

ha ha.

buen provecho :)