Saturday, April 27, 2013

Huevos Rancheros, NM style


Aahh, huevos rancheros. One of the best breakfasts ever invented. At its best in my backyard with a fresh egg from our darling chickens, fresh pinto beans from Moriarty, and lots of NM green chile. It's so perfect, it doesn't even need cheese.

It's a simple combination of tortillas, beans, with an egg and some kind of chile or salsa on the top, and I can't say I've ever had bad huevos rancheros, but these specific ingredients make it special to me.
  1. I like them with corn tortillas, not flour. 
  2. Fresh pinto beans (they're still dried, it's just that they are this year's crop) really do taste better and cook up faster than the old dried-out ones you buy at grocery stores. I had no idea, until we started buying them from Schwebach Farms. They sell at a few places around town, and at their Moriarty farm.
  3. New Mexico green or red chile. It's a myth that the "best" or only authentic chile comes from Hatch. Great chile comes from all parts of the state. If you can't get fresh or frozen NM green chile, you still have many choices to make great NM-style huevos. You can often buy red chile powder at grocery stores in other parts of the country, and make a sauce from that. If you don't like hot food, you can make a fine green chile sauce from the mild Anaheim chiles that are widely available. In fact, you could actually use the red chile enchilada sauce that is commonly sold in grocery stores, and sometimes they even have green enchilada sauce! This is what my mom used to use to make rolled enchiladas in a big pan, growing up in Seattle (I never knew there was such a thing as flat enchiladas, or green enchilada sauce until I came to NM).
  4. Fresh eggs really do taste better than store-bought ones. I was never an egg-lover until we got our chickens. 
  5. Cheese is optional.
First you'll have to cook the beans, possibly the night before. This takes something like 4 hours in a crockpot on high (or overnight on low) or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker. I think it's a myth that you need to soak them overnight, although that does help them cook faster. Also contrary to popular belief, I think adding salt at the beginning helps them cook more evenly. Garlic and a whole red chile are nice additions.

Then, cook the chile. I chop up one whole onion, 1/2 pound green chile, and add a little chicken broth and salt. Simmer until the onions are very soft. Do NOT add cumin. I believe it is sick and wrong to put cumin in green or red chile sauce. I like it in other contexts, but not here.

Fry the eggs. I think fresh eggs are easier to fry, because their whites hold together better. If you're afraid to flip them, you can always just put the lid on to help the tops cook (just so the whites aren't runny). Or, as the Spanish do, and Dave's mom does, spoon the hot oil over the tops to cook them.

Finally, warm the tortillas directly on the burner. Spoon beans and chile over them, and top with fried eggs. A perfect start to Saturday!
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