When I lived in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico as a twenty-year-old, huevos rancheros quickly
became one of my go-to breakfasts. I instantly fell in love with the combination of deliciously fried eggs placed on top of corn tortillas - topped with either spicy salsa roja or salsa ranchera. This dish was frequently served with a side of savory refried black beans which were garnished with the tangy, mildly salty white cheese, queso fresco. Yep. Pure deliciousness!
Even when I enjoy this scrumptious breakfast in my forties, I'm taken back to this time in life when I was eating my way through Mexico, learning Spanish, and making new friendships with some of the nicest people around.
In addition to reliving my traveling adventures from my youth, this recipe is particularly special to me because the salsa roja that I used for this dish is courtesy of my wonderful friend, Chantal. Chantal of course claims that this is everyone's salsa roja recipe, but I'm giving her credit for the salsa! The minor adjustments that I made to Chantal's salsa roja recipe consisted of adding an extra clove of garlic and more jalapeño seeds to make the salsa spicier. I wrote about Chantal and her awesome husband, Morgan, in my very first blog post, pico de gallo. When I was living with Chantal and Morgan in Xalapa, I had no idea that they would someday get married, be the proud parents of two fabulous daughters, and become some of my best friends in the world. Here's a picture of the three of us when we reunited in Montreal a few years ago. They're the best!
So back to huevos rancheros! When I lived in Xalapa, corn tortillas were frequently fried in oil or lard for this dish. I use about 1 tablespoon of oil and warm the tortillas up in a nonstick skillet - one at a time - for about half a minute on each side. This makes the tortillas nice and pliable. If you have a gas stove, you can skip the skillet and just char the tortillas right over the flames - using tongs.
When it comes to making the salsa roja, you can literally put your ingredients in a high- powered blender or a food processor and puree the ingredients until smooth. After blending the ingredients, I cook the salsa roja on the stove top for about 25 minutes in a medium skillet with high sides. You will notice that as you cook the salsa roja, its color will slightly change. Here's a picture of my salsa roja at the beginning of the cooking process.
You can see in the picture below that near the end of the cooking process, the salsa roja is displaying more of an orange hue and has slightly reduced.
Since this recipe makes about 3 to 3 1/2 cups of salsa roja, feel free to use the leftover salsa for another dish. I use at least 1/4 of a cup of salsa roja per tortilla when I make huevos rancheros. You could use the leftover salsa roja for chilaquiles (I'll probably post this dish in the near future), tacos, grilled meats, and enchiladas!
Once your salsa is done, it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. When it's time to prepare your huevos rancheros, I recommend warming up the tortillas right before you cook the eggs. Once you've warmed them up in a skillet or over a gas flame, to keep the tortillas warm, you can wrap them up in a piece of aluminum foil or a slightly damp clean towel. You could also wrap the cooked tortillas in a piece of aluminum foil and place them in an oven on low. And if you're really fancy, you could use an actual tortilla warmer. But in all honesty, I just place my warmed up tortillas on a plate and quickly cook the eggs!
I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I do! Happy cooking and eating!
Yield: 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are (Allow yourself to listen to your hunger/fullness cues)
8 Roma tomatoes
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
*2 jalapeño peppers (If you like fairly spicy salsa, use 1 jalapeño with seeds, and 1 with half of its seeds), roughly chopped (See cook's note)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (Adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt (Adjust to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1 cup of water (I prefer 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock or veggie stock
2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil, divided
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 large eggs
Salsa roja (Reserve the rest for tacos, chilaquiles, grilled meat, or enchiladas)
*If you prefer salsa that is not very spicy, you can remove and discard the jalapeños' vein - which contains the seeds - prior to adding the roughly chopped jalapeños to the blender or food processor. The vein is the part of the pepper that contains the most heat. However, the compound, capsaicin, which is what makes the chilies spicy, frequently comes into contact with the seeds, making them hot as well.
1. Make the salsa roja first (Can be made a couple of days ahead of time). Blend all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor until you have a smooth consistency. Next, pour the salsa into a medium or large nonstick skillet with high sides. Bring the salsa to a boil, followed by reducing the heat to low and simmering for about 25 minutes - stirring a few times off and on throughout the cooking process. The salsa will reduce, and will take on more of an orange hue near the end of the cooking process.
2. Make the huevos rancheros! Heat one tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a medium nonstick skillet. When the oil is hot, carefully place one tortilla in the skillet and cook for about half a minute on each side. Remove the cooked tortilla from the skillet and place on a clean plate. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas (If you wish, you can wrap the tortillas up in a piece of aluminum foil, a clean slightly damp kitchen towel, or an actual tortilla warmer). Now it's time to cook the eggs! Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat in the same nonstick skillet that you cooked the tortillas in. When the oil is hot, add the four eggs to the skillet and fry them to your liking (I prefer over easy for this dish). Here's a link for how to fry an egg. When the eggs are done cooking, place one of the tortillas on its own plate - and top it with one cooked egg and some salsa. I prefer to use at least 1/4 of a cup of salsa per tortilla. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas, eggs, and salsa. Serve immediately with a side of black refried beans topped with queso fresco or your favorite fresh fruit. Reserve the remaining salsa for grilled meats, tacos, chilaquiles, or enchiladas. Enjoy!
Note: The salsa roja recipe has been adapted from Chantal's salsa roja recipe.