I love Mexican food. I’ll take good Mexican food just about anytime I can get it, including breakfast. Huevos rancheros (literally “ranch eggs”) is an iconic dish that originated as mid-morning fare on Mexican ranches. Traditionally, the basic dish consists of fried eggs served on lightly fried tortillas, topped with, originally, a salsa fresca (pico de gallo). Common accompaniments included refried beans, rice, and guacamole. As the dish spread beyond Mexico, most versions evolved to use pureed chili sauce instead of the salsa fresca, and have added other items such as cheese, sour cream, etc.
And that chili sauce is what led me to this recipe. Interestingly, I never had huevos rancheros until I made them myself. But what I did have was a southwest style omlette made by one of those chain restaurants known for breakfast. It had the most incredibly smoky, warm sauce on it, and it was heavenly. Of course they decided to take it off the menu after several months, much to my (and to many others’) chagrin, according to the wait staff.
I could tell that the primary smoky note I was tasting was probably chipotle in adobo. So I set out to research sauce recipes, and soon realized that looking for sauce recipes connected to huevos rancheros was the way to go. After looking at many versions, I finally found inspiration from a recipe by the fabulous gentlemen at How to Feed a Loon. I tweaked the seasonings somewhat and used tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes, but I have to give them credit for the basics of this recipe. Then, since I had the sauce, I figured why not try making huevos rancheros?
So, here it is…the basic recipe for huevos rancheros, along with the recipe for ranchero sauce and also a recipe for refried beans, if you care to make your own. I will say that this is something that I never try to do all from scratch, all at once – I will make the ranchero sauce and the beans a couple of days ahead, and reheat those before I cook the eggs, and then assemble.
Do note that the sauce is geared to my heat preference – to me, it’s not fiery but just a pleasant lingering warmth. However, keep in mind that I am a woman who has won a few hot sauce eating contests, so you may want to start more slowly with the serrano and chipotle until you figure out what works for you.
- 2 cups ranchero sauce (recipe follows)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 8 Tortillas (I prefer flour, but you can use corn)
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups refried beans (recipe follows if you want to make your own).
- 1/2 cup queso fresco
- Warm the ranchero sauce and the beans in separate saucepans (or use microwave).
- Heat a small amount of oil in a fry pan, and crisp the tortillas – this will only take a few seconds. A flour tortilla will puff up slightly. Drain on paper towels.
- Add a bit more oil to the pan, and fry the eggs, basting with oil to set the tops.
- Place two tortillas on each plate, spread a spoonful of beans over each tortilla, and top each with an egg.
- Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 cup ranchero sauce over the eggs, and top with crumbled queso fresco.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small serrano pepper, diced, seeds and membranes removed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 chiplotle pepper canned in adobo sauce, diced
- 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotles
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the serrano, onion, garlic and chopped chipotle and cook until softened.
- Add tomato sauce, adobo sauce, chili powder and cumin to saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced by about 25%.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 lb dried pinto beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-4 tbsp pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (pork lard is the most authentic and gives the best flavor!)
- ground cumin, to taste
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Rinse beans, place in pot and soak overnight. Or use quick soak method – cover with water, bring to a boil, cover and let sit for one hour.
- Drain beans. Cover with fresh water, add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until beans are soft. (Watch as beans simmer and add more water if needed). Remove bay leaf and drain, reserving about a cup of the liquid.
- Heat lard, fat or oil in large frying pan, and saute onions and garlic until translucent.
- Add beans to pan, and mash with a potato masher them as you cook them, adding some of the reserved liquid if they are getting too dry. Season to taste with cumin, salt and pepper.