I'm a savory breakfast person, for whatever reason I just can't get behind the idea of scarfing down something sweet first thing in the morning. That's probably why I tend to gravitate towards dishes like Eggs Benedict or Monte Cristo Sandwiches when I go out for Brunch. But it's Huevos Rancheros that holds a special place in my heart stomach and is almost always what I'll order when I see it on a menu. With fried corn tortillas on a bed of refried beans, topped with eggs, and ranchera sauce, it's an awesome combination of colors, textures and flavors.
Although each component may look visually distinct, magic happens when you break the golden yolks and they percolate through the spicy sauce onto the warm tortillas and creamy refried beans, bringing the whole dish together into a gloriously filling meal that will keep you powered through an active morning, without skipping a beat.
For me, a perfect salsa ranchera is smoky and piquant with a full bodied pepper flavor that's balanced by the fruity sweetness of the tomatoes. Each ingredient adds its own note and yet when they come together they harmonize like a well rehearse chorus.
To achieve such a sublimely balanced sauce, I use a few tricks. The first is to use cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes not only char faster, giving you a marvelous smoky flavor, they also tend to have a more intense tomato flavor than bigger ones, even in the dead of winter.
My second trick is to roast everything until they're slightly charred. This not only saves a boatload of work chopping and sauteing, the high temperature and ensuing maillard reaction creates new flavor compounds and concentrates the existing ones, making for a more intense sauce.
If you end up with leftover ranchera sauce, it makes for some awesome baked eggs. Just add a bit of water to thin the sauce out and reheat it in a pan before dropping a few eggs into it, topping with cheese and putting the whole pan in the oven (make sure the handle is oven-safe)
- Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 450 F (230 C).
- Poke holes in the tomatoes with a toothpick to keep them from exploding in the oven.
- Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, mild green chiles, hot green chiles, and garlic on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Roast until everything is slightly charred on top.
- Remove the stems and seeds along with some of the skin from the chiles and add to a blender or food processor along with the rest of the vegetables and any juices that have collected in the pan. Add the salt and blend until smooth. If your sauce is too thick, you can add a bit of water to thin it out.
- Click the link in the ingredients for recipes to make sunny side up eggs and refried beans.
- Fry both sides of each tortilla in some oil until crisp around the edges, but still soft in the center.
- To assemble your Huevos Rancheros, spread a layer of refried beans on two plates. Top with 2 tortillas and then pour some ranchera sauce on top. Top with the eggs, some more ranchera sauce and then garnish with crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro.