When my husband Dave and I became empty nesters several years ago, we began to eat brunch out on Sundays after church and rarely cooked it at home except on holidays or special occasions. Then came COVID-19. No church except online. No restaurants open until recently. (We’re still not going, though we did go to our local dive drive-in for ice cream the other day.) We immediately hopped to and began cooking brunch at home again–just like in the old days. We shared the work–Dave making eggs, etc. and me happily baking a goodie like the Blueberry Buckle below, which I hadn’t been doing in eons. We’ve taken turns on what we now call our Cheep A** Bloody Marys (more on that later) and now eat brunch BEFORE church for the most part. We’ve even gone way old school and made Dave’s mom Lorna’s comforting egg casserole a time or two as it provides excellent lunch leftovers. (Recipe in photo below.) Could we ever have imagined all this? No. You probably hadn’t either.
And then one day as we talked about what we might have come Sunday (as you’ve got to plan these days), I ventured, “We have corn tortillas.” Dave nodded sagely, but said nada. Next day, he offered, “You know, when you mentioned ‘corn tortillas,’ I thought you meant we could have breakfast tacos. Then I realized you meant we might make huevos rancheros! Let’s do it!” Well do it he did, and he made them again another Sunday as we loved them so much the first go round. I’m not sure he cooks them exactly as I have, but they’re close soul mates. I’ve done my level best to get the simple recipe down correctly so you can crank it out for Father’s Day brunch or even for dinner tomorrow night. You could google huevos rancheros, a favorite Mexican farmer’s meal, which are eggs and tortillas with beans, and make them any which way but loose. Our way, however, is fast,
cheap inexpensive, easy, and right on this blog. No doubt the hardly-a-recipe is a big time Americanized version, so…
Here’s a real definition just for grins and giggles:
The basic dish consists of fried eggs served on lightly fried or charred corn or flour tortillas topped with a salsa fresca made of tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, and cilantro. Common accompaniments include refried beans, Mexican-style rice, and guacamole or slices of avocado, with cilantro as a garnish.
I kept wondering when and where we began making “Huevos” and don’t know if our late brother-in-law, Alfred Barrionuevo (a fine chef originally from Mexico City), started us on the path or if we first ate them while living in San Antonio. Could have even been something my sister Helen, Alfred’s good cook wife, whipped up for us. However it started, we’re pretty glad it did. Our Colorado version of huevos begins with hot, crispy small corn tortillas (stick them in the oven to keep warm after heating them on a griddle, in a cast iron skillet, or over a burner) on top of which are layered spicy pinto beans and eggs that are “poached” right in/on the beans which neatly avoids a second pan to wash. (Use canned beans for this really fast version or make your own ahead of time–scroll down for method.) Once the eggs are done with firm whites and runny yolks — don’t leave them alone for a moment — they’re scooped up with the beans, carefully ladled onto the hot tortillas and then graced with your choice of garnishes–jalapeño and onion, cilantro, cheese, sour cream stirred together with lime juice and hot sauce, and/or salsa. Of course you’ll need one of our Cheep A** Bloody or Virgin Marys, for which I also include a recipe. Read on:
WHAT GOES WITH HUEVOS RANCHEROS? You don’t need much…
*Bacon? Sausage? Ham? Sure–just a little bit goes a long ways since there’s two eggs for each person.
*Shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on the side are the perfect accompaniment-foil. For a special brunch, add a big bowl of fresh fruit and berries with mint or granola and yogurt. Since you have tortillas, skip muffins or coffee cake, though if you wanted hash browns or country fries, you could probably include them.
*Avocado? Guac? Go for it, but the meal is fine with out it.
*The thing we really like is an ice cold Cheep A** Bloody or Virgin Mary to chase it all down with. (recipe below) The Mary needn’t be too spicy since the meal holds a little heat depending upon how you make it. Not a fan? Try a Mexican coffee, then, which is just coffee with a big shake each of tequila and coffee liqueur with a little brown sugar and whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon. For a group, you might also make my Margarita Sangria–fun, festive, and feisty.
Whether you’re whipping up brunch for Dad or cooking dinner just for you, try this:
Dave’s Easy Huevos Rancheros
- 4 small corn tortillas-4 or 6-inch
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons each minced onion and jalapeño pepper-divided
- 15- ounce can undrained pinto beans (or two cups homemade pintos)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Hot sauce
- 4 large eggs
- Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Salsa for garnish
- Sour cream blended with a little lime juice and hot sauce for garnish
- Grated extra sharp Cheddar Cheese or Queso Fresco for garnish
- 2 cups shredded crisp lettuce for serving — optional
- 1 cup diced tomato for serving — optional
- 2 slices cooked crispy bacon — optional
- WARM THE TORTILLAS: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Heat a small griddle or heavy small fry pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add a tortilla and grill until browned, but not stiff. Turn and heat the other side. Place on a small baking sheet in the oven and cover with foil. Repeat until all tortillas are in the oven keeping warm.
- SAUTÉ THE ONIONS/JALAPEÑOS and HEAT BEANS: In a large, deep and heavy skillet, warm the butter and sauté just half of the onion and jalapeño over medium heat until tender, saving the remainder to sprinkle on top of the eggs at the end. Stir in the beans, and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add a shake or two of hot sauce, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or so, until just bubbly. Be careful to not dry the beans out, as you need their liquid to cook the eggs.
- "POACH" THE EGGS ON THE BEANS: Divide the round skillet into quadrants mentally or draw a “t” with a spoon through the beans. Crack an egg into each quadrant and sprinkle each with salt and pepper, making sure the yolks each get salt. Lower the heat, cover, and cook until the whites are opaque, but the yolks are still runny – or to your liking. Stay right there watching the skillet. Eggs are finicky creatures and need company every second.
- REMOVE TORTILLAS FROM OVEN and place two just overlapping on each of two plates. With a wide spatula, carefully scoop up a quadrant of beans with an egg and add to one tortilla, repeating until all four tortillas are covered with beans and eggs.
- GARNISH with a sprinkle of the reserved minced onion and jalapeño, the cilantro, salsa, sour cream mixture, and cheese – or whichever garnishes you choose.
- ADD LETTUCE/TOMATO to the plate if you like. Bacon is nice, too. Serve hot with a Bloody Mary or Mexican Coffee.
A word about corn tortillas. They often come in a really large pack. Go ahead and buy it. You can divvy it up and freeze the packages. Just stick them in the fridge overnight to thaw or leave them out on the counter for a couple of hours. Corn tortillas have a long shelf life, too, so if you think you’ll eat them before the “best by” date, go for it. Scroll down for another recipe–SIRLOIN STEAK TACOS WITH RED PEPPER SAUCE AND BLUE CHEESE–that makes tasty use of a few if you’ve any to spare.
The Cheep A** Bloody Mary needs little explanation. Simply stir together the following ingredients in your best on the rocks glass and add a leafy stalk of celery for stirring. Do taste and adjust seasonings!
- Shot of vodka (leave out for a Cheep A** Virgin Mary.)
- 5 ounces low-sodium V8 juice
- 1 teaspoon pickle juice
- 1 shake each Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco
- Sprinkle each Celery (or kosher) Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Why is this called The Cheep A** Bloody Mary?
There’s no leaning tower of Pisa full of cheese, olives, fried eggs on biscuits, or smoked salmon stuffed shrimp standing up in this basic, but solid drink. No expensive fancy pants mix to buy. Just stuff you maybe have at home anyway. Plain old tomato juice works fine, too, but ramp up the pickle juice, sauces, and salt/pepper a little, I think. It’s “Cheep A**” because our friend Jerome Carter texted us one day that he and and his husband Chris were drinking, “Cheep A** Chardonnay.” Cheep A** just stuck around since then. If you want to do it right, add a beer chaser–which must be the local bottom of the price barrel soapy lager. Yes, I’m from the midwest.
Make the pinto beans from scratch. You’ll need to start a day ahead or make the Instant Pot version:
- 1/2 pound dry pinto beans, picked over
- 4 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Small onion, chopped
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and Tabasco
* Cover beans with water and soak overnight. OR, 3 hours ahead of meal, place beans in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil 2 minutes. Turn off. Cover and let sit at least an hour. *Drain. Add water to cover plus 3-4 inches. Stir in bacon and add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Season with a few drops of Tabasco. *Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover. Let simmer until beans are tender–1 1/2 to 2 hours. Turn off heat and set aside until needed. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. These beans freeze well. (Can double.)
The cook without time in her pocket could make these in the INSTANT POT.
LIFE GOES ON….
This was how the morning began on June 9…cold and rainy and many parts of our town had snow. It was a good day to make homemade pizza and watch a movie, so that’s what we did. Actually we’re trying not to run too fast through the series, “Shetland,” which must be purchased season by season, but is well worth it if you’re looking for something good upon which to get hooked.
Created from the novels by award winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, Shetland follows DI Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate crime within the close knit island community. In this isolated and sometimes inhospitable environment, the team have to rely on a uniquely resourceful style of policing. Set against a hauntingly beautiful landscape, Shetland is based on the best selling books such as Red Bones, Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning. Written by ahmetkozanimdb shetland (tv series 2013 – )
We’ve been to a lot of places in Scotland, including several islands, but we sailed right past the Shetlands on our way to Norway on our last trip. Next time, we’re stopping in.
Looking ahead in love and hope for our country’s much-needed and too-long delayed changes and feeling grateful for your online presence and company. Cook on!