Huevos rancheros is such a classic Mexican breakfast, that's easy to make at home and enjoy any meal you like!
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I think I might have mentioned before that coming from the UK, I didn't grow up with Mexican food - even now it's not that easy to get decent quality Mexican food there. So when I traveled to Mexico in my early 20s I was in for a real treat food-wise. There were so many things I loved (including chicken mole) but breakfasts were probably one of my favorites, especially huevos rancheros, chilaquiles verdes and molletes.
I have some fantastic memories eating it in Mexico City, having muddled along ordering it with my then limited Spanish, but enjoying every last mouthful. I could not believe you could have so much flavor for breakfast, a meal I at that point in my life had to force myself to eat. In fact thinking about it, I probably have that trip to thank for me now loving breakfast.
Despite those memories it's not something I have made for a while, but I think that's going to have to change. While huevos rancheros is traditionally a breakfast dish, and it would make a great brunch, it's hearty enough to be eaten any time and makes a perfect 'brinner'.
It's comforting and tasty, just the kind of food almost anyone would enjoy. And especially with the help of a couple of cans, it's quick to make too.
How to make huevos rancheros
I've cheated slightly here using some fire-roasted tomatoes and pre-made refried beans to add some extra flavor quickly. Then all you do is put the fire-roasted tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro and chili (either chipotle in adobo or fresh, as you prefer) plus the juice of half a small lime in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The fire-roasted tomatoes really help give a great flavor base so once everything else is added, this is a really flavorful salsa. Pour it in to a pan and bring to a simmer while you cook everything else.
Tip the can of refried beans into a small pan and warm through over a low heat (I used traditional here, but there are also vegetarian and no fat versions if more appropriate for your diet). Lightly toast the corn tortillas then keep warm while you add a little oil to the pan and fry your eggs.
Then serve everything up - put the tortillas on your plates, top each with some refried beans, an egg or two, and some of the warm salsa. Add some grated or crumbled cheese on top and serve with a few slices of avocado. It's a quick, easy wonderful plate of deliciousness.
How to choose and cut avocados
While we're talking avocados, here are a few tips on buying and using them -
- I recommend you buy unripe avocados (ie still firm when you gently squeeze them) and letting them ripen at home. Part of the reason is if they are already soft in store you don't know how much is they're ripe and how much is people squeezing them!
- An avocado is ripe when it's soft when you gently squeeze the skin, but not too soft.
- You can also remove the stem and see the color underneath - green is good, brown is overripe.
- To use them, cut them top to bottom round the middle and twist the two halves to separate. Tap the edge of your knife into the stone and twist to remove it.
- For slices, carefully remove the skin from each half and place the cut side down on a board. Slice either across or top to bottom, depending how long you want your slices.
- If you are dicing/mashing, I generally cut the avocado into chunks in the skin then pop the chunks out, using a spoon.
- If you are not using part of the avocado, squeeze a little lemon or lime juice over the exposed side to save it from browning too much.
Huevos rancheros comes together in no time at all with a little cheating, which is needed now and then. You can serve a hearty big plateful, as I did with two tortillas and two eggs, or one of each. Or two tortillas and one egg... You get the idea, huevos rancheros is a flexible dish, whether you're feeding the hungry cowboys it's named after or not. Any leftover salsa and/or refried beans will keep stored in a container in the fridge for a couple days. So it's ready to enjoy with your next Mexican meal.
One thing's for sure, there's a whole lot of flavor in this delicious, comforting plate which you don't have to wait long to enjoy.
Try these other comforting breakfasts:
- Shakshuka with meat
- Menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs)
- Baked eggs with mushrooms and asparagus
- Plus get more breakfast and brunch recipes in the archives.
- 14.5 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes 411g (1 can) eg Hunt's with garlic
- ½ onion large, or 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro coriander, a small bunch, leaves only
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo or 1 fresh chili, or more if you prefer hotter
- ½ lime juice
- 16oz refried beans 454g (1 can) eg Rosarita's traditional, vegetarian or no fat
- 4 tortillas - I used 8in corn tortillas but larger/smaller and wheat also ok
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil approx
- 2 eggs or 4, as you prefer
- 1 avocado
- 1 oz cotija cheese 30g, approx - or feta or cheddar suggested
- Place the fire-roasted tomatoes, onion, cilantro leaves, chipotle or roughly-chopped fresh chili and lime juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a small pan and warm through - let it simmer gently as you prepare everything else.
- Empty the refried beans into another small pan and warm over a low heat. Add a little water if necessary to loosen.
- Warm a skillet over a medium heat and warm each tortilla for a minute or two on each side until soft and gently warm. Keep warm wrapped in a dish towel or wrapped in foil in a low oven (around 200F).
- Once you've warmed the tortillas, add the oil to the skillet and once warm, add your eggs. Fry until they are the cooked as you prefer. If you want the yolk cooked more, either turn and cook on other side after a minute or two or baste the yolk with the hot oil by tipping the pan slightly to the side and using a spoon to collect the oil and pour it over the yolk. Repeat this a few times (you'll see the color change).
- Cut open, peel and slice the avocado and crumble or grate the cheese.
- To serve, place the tortillas on plates and top with some refried beans. Place the eggs on top then drizzle over with the warm salsa. Top with a little cheese and avocado on the side.
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