Huevos rancheros – fried eggs and colorful, rich salsa over hearty tortillas – combine in this delicious dish that’s perfect for breakfast or brunch. (Photo/Nina Terrero)

How to make: Huevos rancheros

There are few pleasures as indulgent – or delicious – as Saturday morning brunch, and more often than not when I’m at a restaurant, I order huevos rancheros. They’re fairly simple (just a heavenly triumvirate of corn tortillas, salsa and eggs) but there’s just something about jalepeño-flecked, spicy salsa smothering creamy eggs, whose rich yolk compliments the wholesome crunch of corn tortillas. It’s comfort food at its best for households across Mexico and the United States; after all, with corn tortillas more common here than white bread and eggs being a cheap refrigerator staple, it only seems natural that salsita – whether freshly  made or leftover from the previous night’s enchiladas – be used to tie it all together in this savory dish.

“You can eat it every single day and never get bored,” says Chef Julian Medina, a Mexico City transplant who owns a string of six successful pan-Latin restaurants in New York City. His father would set massive plates of ranch-style eggs (aptly named for the rancheros in Mexico who frequently asked for this style of eggs for their hearty mid-morning meal) before him and his two brothers several times a week before sending them all off to school. And while I happen to love a generous serving of fiery red tomato salsa on my eggs, Medina prefers the puckery flavor of green tomatillo salsa (“the tomatillos have a citrusy, tangy flavor that plays up the delicate flavor of the eggs,” he says) and serves his version atop a bed of  toothsome rice and hearty black beans.

While we offer both versions here (lucky you!), there’s no right or wrong way to make this belly-warming, hangover-beating favorite: feel free to add a dollop of luscious crema or opt for poached or scrambled eggs with which to top your tortillas. After all, the secret to a great breakfast or brunch is that it’s always made just the way you like it.

Huevos rancheros with red tomato salsa

For the salsa:

4 ripe red tomatoes (you may also use 1 8-oz can of fire roasted tomatoes)

1 small white onion, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 whole serrano or jalapeño pepper

¼ cup cilantro, washed and finely chopped

Salt

Pepper

¼ teaspoon cumin (optional)

4 small corn tortillas

Four T corn oil

4 whole eggs

Grated monterey jack or cheddar cheese; crumbled cotija cheese also works well

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

1. Prepare salsa, grilling the tomatoes, onion, garlic and pepper over high heat on an outdoor barbecue grill until slightly charred and black. Alternately, you can grill the vegetables on a stove top grill pan. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, adding cumin if desired. Transfer salsa to a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once thickened (about 10 minutes), use for topping huevos. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Note: heat of the salsa can be adjusted by reducing the seeds and veins from peppers before adding to salsa and puréeing.

2.  Add one tablespoon corn oil to a 12-inch saucepan and heat over medium heat. Fry one corn tortilla at a time, flipping once and cooking until each side browns slightly and puffs (do not fry until crisp). Stack tortillas on a plate, covering with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. If needed, add more corn oil to cook consecutive tortillas.

3. Using the same saucepan used to fry the tortillas, heat 1 tablespoon corn oil to medium heat. Carefully crack two eggs into the skillet and cooking until desired doneness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Repeat with remaining eggs.

4. To serve, overlap two tortillas on a plate. Top with eggs and ¼ cup salsa. Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese, if desired. Serve with avocado slices. Serves 2.

How to make: Huevos rancheros huevos rancheros great photo food NBC Latino News

Chef Julian Medina serves a sophisticated version of huevos rancheros at his casual, pan-Latin NYC restaurant, Coppelia (Photo/Courtesy Toloache Events)

Chef Julian Medina’s Tomatillo-Chipotle Huevos Rancheros

Serves 4

For Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa:

5 fresh tomatillos, out of the husk and cut in quarters

1 small white onion, cut in quarters

2 chipotle peppers dried, or canned

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 bunch cilantro, well washed, set aside 4 springs

Salt to taste

¼ cup water

1 bunch cilantro, well washed, set aside 4 springs

½ avocado, peeled, pit removed, cut in 6 lengthwise wedges

For the Moros:

1 cup black beans, dry

1 avocado leaf, dried

Water to cover the beans

1 quart rice

½ cup unsalted butter

3 teaspoons olive oil

1 quart water

¼ cup canola oil

1 chile serrano, finely diced

½ cup Spanish onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh epazote, finely chopped

For the Huevos Rancheros:

8 organic large eggs

4 corn tortillas

1 cup Moros

1 cup shredded Chihuahua cheese, or Manchego

4 tablespoons queso fresco

2 tablespoons sour cream, or crème fraiche

For Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa:

1. Place the tomatillos, onion, jalapeños, cilantro, garlic and water in a

blender or food processor.  Pulse mixture until you have a mostly smooth purée,

about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt.

For the Moros:

1.  Bring water with avocado leaf to a boil in a medium pot.  Add the black beans and allow cooking for 1 hour, or until tender, adding more water if needed.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2.   Pour the rice into a colander and rinse it with water.  In a large pan on medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.  Once butter is melted and the oil is warm, add the rice and let it simmer.  Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes, make sure to check the amount of water after 5 minutes, if needed add more.

3.  In a saucepan over medium heat sauté the onions, garlic, serrano and epazote in the oil.  Add the black beans with water to pan, then cook for 20 minutes over low heat, salt to taste. Once the beans are cooked halfway mash the ingredients together, then continue cooking for 3 minutes longer. Add the prepared rice to the pan and let simmer together, mix well the two ingredients.  Remove from heat.

For the Huevos Rancheros:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2.  Head a frying pan with oil and fry the tortillas until crisp then set aside.

3.  In an individual baking dish layer the following ingredients.  On the bottom of the dish place the crispy tortillas, then layer 2 tablespoons of the moros, next break 2 eggs for the third layer, then cover with about ½ cup of tomatillo salsa, sprinkle the cheeses on top then bake for 5 minutes or until the yolk is tender and the white is cooked. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sour cream. Serve immediately.

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