Saturday, November 13, 2004

Huevos Rancheros For Two

Huevos Rancheros generally is taken to mean “Mexican Eggs.” I’ve always seen them on the menu at the many Mexican restaurants found every two hundred yards up and down the streets of the suburbs in Atlanta, Georgia. To quote Mark Twain, you can't "swing a cat" and not hit a Mexican restaurant in Atlanta. I never ordered a plate of them (com' on...mexican eggs, not cats, sheesh...) in the 27 years I lived there, however.

I was cruising the Internet a few months ago, looking for something “different” to cook for a weekend breakfast and this recipe for huevos rancheros caught my eye. As usual, I just couldn’t follow the recipe and, having cooked them a half dozen times now, I have a pretty good idea what works best.

Here’s the deal. Basically, you are cooking a tomato and chili pepper based sauce in a skillet, then poaching the eggs on top of the mixture just before you serve them. Any one of a number of variations can be accomplished by including additives like sausage, bacon, mushrooms, you name it. I generally just try to make it not taste too much like spaghetti sauce.

Spices are the key. Also, I've tried to keep the quantity of sauce down to an amount sufficient for a maximum of four eggs. If you have more people to feed, increase the size of the skillet and the quantities proportionally.

So here we go. You’ll need the following ingredients:

(1) 8 oz can of diced tomatoes
(1) 8 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies (use as hot a mix as you can stand)
(1) small can mushroom pieces and stems (optional)
¼ pound sausage or ground beef (optional)
chicken or beef broth
(2) tbsp olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, diced fine
2 tsp cumin
a FEW chili pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste

Medium eggs at room temperature (one or two per person)

The cooking process:

Heat the olive oil in a 10” skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and sauté until clear. Add Garlic and cook lightly

Redneck Tip: don’t burn your garlic or you’ll have to start over.

If you are using sausage or ground beef, go ahead and brown it with the onions and garlic.

Redneck Tip: If you are a cheep SOB and you bought crappy ground beef or sausage, drain and spoon off the extra grease that has cooked out of the mixture. I use 95% fat free ground sirloin to help keep my girth and tonnage under control, such as it is.

Now add the diced tomatoes, Rotel mixture, and other ingredients you’re using like mushrooms or whatever.

Redneck Tip: You can pour off some of the juice of the Rotel tomatoes/chilies to keep the “heat” down to whatever your taste can stand. (You can also put the toilet paper in the freezer…err…um…never mind.)

Add the seasonings and a little broth and stir everything up. You want a little extra liquid so that you have something to cook down over the next 20 minutes or so. Cover the whole thing and simmer.

Check the consistency, but don’t stir the mixture once it starts reducing. You want it to sort of cook a “skin” on the top that you can float the eggs on when the time comes. After twenty to thirty minutes of cooking, it’s time to poach the eggs. Carefully crack them and gently lay them evenly spaced around on top the tomato mixture. Cook the eggs for four to six minutes until they are done like you like them.

Turn off the heat and let everything coast for a few minutes. Use a large spatula to cut and lift a generous portion of the mixture out along with each egg. Watch out because it will be hot, so don’t burn the roof of your mouth.

Redneck tip: Mix a fat screwdriver with lots of ice while your Huevos cool.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

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