Huevos Rancheros Thread: GO!
January 28, 2009 9:24 AM   Subscribe

For those who make huevos rancheros: what do you do to make them amazing? For those who eat huevos rancheros: what detail makes them go from okay to amazing?

If I had to be limited to one meal for the rest of my life, it may well be huevos rancheros. My roommate has started making some kickass ones every couple of weeks, but he does it pretty much the same every time. What I love about the dish is going from restaurant to restaurant, each place makes it slightly differently.

So, in my quest to perfect this dish, please indulge me your secret to making the best huevos rancheros. Not detail is to small: type of tortilla, salsa, beans and cheese are all the types of detail I am looking for.
posted by piratebowling to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
For me, the eggs are perfect when they are "over medium" - which means that the yolks run, but aren't so runny that they make the tortilla soggy. Good salsa makes a huge difference too.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:34 AM on January 28, 2009

Here's a picture of the best huevos rancheros I've ever had. I like how they stacked the ingredients: tortilla on the bottom, melted cheese, then beans, eggs, etc. Eggs were scrambled which I prefer, and the salsa was chock full of garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.
posted by anthropoid at 9:40 AM on January 28, 2009

Thick tortillas (I identify them as Central-American style, but that might be idiosyncratic) make the difference for me. Oh, man, the fresh, handmade, blue-corn variety I had that morning in Guatemala...
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2009

2 T butter or oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 bell peppers (any color, mix it up) seeded and chopped
2 mild chilis, seeded and chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I sometimes cheat and use canned, it still tastes good)
2 T lemon or lime juice
2 t dried oregano
salt and pepper
eggs, tortillas, and cheddar cheese

Heat the butter or oil in an iron skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook, while stirring, for 5 minutes until soft. Add peppers and chilis and cook 5 more minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add more lemon juice if it's too dry. Serve this mixture over eggs done to your preference (I like mine over hard for this, even though most time I take them sunny-side up). Sprinkle with cheese and use the tortillas to mop up the juice.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:44 AM on January 28, 2009

Fry the tortillas for a bit in corn oil. It makes quite a difference.
posted by elmono at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2009

Here is the Smitten Kitten recipes for delicious Huevos Rancheros. She makes her own fresh salsa and has a unique (to me at least) way of cracking the egg over the tortilla and cheese so that the whole thing bakes together. Yum.
posted by warble at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2009

The key ingredient is El Yucateco Kutbil-ik Mayan hot sauce. If that is too spicy for your taste Cholula hot sauce is a close second. Both go very well with runny egg yolks. Yummmmm. Of course you will then want to top the whole thing with a fresh home made salsa. Nothing from a jar will ever compare to fresh.
posted by caddis at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2009

I absolutely can't stand runny eggs, so I avoid huevos rancheros. But I make a huevos rancheros-like concoction for breakfast, and I do find that selecting the salsa carefully makes a ton of difference. If you're just using Pace, you may want to give that a second thought and get a locally made salsa.
posted by crapmatic at 9:54 AM on January 28, 2009

I really liked doing huevos con chorizo, which my bro did one time I visited.

Fry up some onion, garlic and chilli, and some chorizo diced quite fine. Then add the eggs to that when ready. Served up in tortillas, the difference for me comes from the soured cream, avocado and heaps of cilantro (being one of my favourite things ever).

Not quite what you're after, but close and so good!
posted by opsin at 9:55 AM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I liberally apply black beans, and also use real green chile, or at least green chile sauce from a can.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2009

Green chile. Red chile. Really, any combination of the above (lovingly called "Christmas"). Good books on New Mexico chile
posted by answergrape at 10:07 AM on January 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

I just make them how I like them, and with whatever I have on hand. My ideal kind would be:

2 corn tortillas, steamed or otherwise heated. Pinto beans, or refried beans if that's all I've got, gently ladled over the tortillas. 2 fried eggs, over-hard because I can't stomach a runny yolk. Add cheese. Apply Trader Joe's Salsa Autentica salsa and chipotle peppers if I have any, add a little more cheese and some sliced avocado or fresh guac if I want to make it and tuck in.
posted by nonmerci at 10:15 AM on January 28, 2009

Oh yeah, and cilantro and lime on top definitely bring it up to a different level of deliciousness.
posted by nonmerci at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2009

I made something similar recently but used a cheese arepa instead of a tortilla and it was fantastic. Nth frying tortillas first, though.
posted by kmennie at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2009

Try making your own tortillas sometime, they have a perfumey, toasty taste that you'll never duplicate from store-bought tortillas. They're simple to make, about the same level as pancakes from a mix.
You need:
a tortilla press
Follow the directions on the masa package.

Here's the salsa I use:
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chopped green chile
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 T onions or 2 stalks green onion, roughly chopped
2 jalapenos destemmed and roughly chopped (remove seeds if you don't like things so hot)
1 hand full of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
juice of 1 small lime
pinch of salt
generous pinch of sugar

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times until it's the desired consistancy. Best if made a few hours ahead so that the flavors have time to blend.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2009

Slice a tortilla into squares, let it grill in the pan in whatever fat you're using, when its crispy mix the eggs in. The little squares soak up the eggy spicy goodness and give the whole thing a pleasing bulk without being heavy.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 10:29 AM on January 28, 2009

Try making your own tortillas sometime, they have a perfumey, toasty taste that you'll never duplicate from store-bought tortillas. They're simple to make, about the same level as pancakes from a mix.
You need:
a tortilla press

In lieu of a tortilla press, use two big, hardback cookbooks. Or, well, I suppose they don't have to be cookbooks. Dictionaries would probably work just as well.

posted by mudpuppie at 10:30 AM on January 28, 2009

The best huevos rancheros I have ever had were a "special" at a diner in Cedar Crest, NM.
My buddy would beg the ladies to turn the fryer on for him if it wasn't on the specials board.

It was you basic huevos rancheros made with three eggs and using pork red chile as the salsa (with large chunks of pork) and all plated over a chicken fried steak.

Heart attack on a plate, but I was doing lots of footwork for the Man back then and burning the calories. Couldn't go there now, but I remember it fondly.

If you too are in need of saving your arteries, try just using a NM style red or green chile.
posted by Seamus at 12:31 PM on January 28, 2009

Rather than tortillas, try making corn cakes. Use your favorite unsweetened cornbread recipe, and cook on a griddle like pancakes.
posted by amphioxus at 12:34 PM on January 28, 2009

Salsa? No way. Green chile every time.
posted by methylsalicylate at 12:50 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Homeade tortilla or arepas are what makes it for me, as mentioned above; it's like dried pasta vs. fresh. Just thought I'd add my vote.
posted by variella at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2009

yes yes yes homemade tortillas, over medium eggs, and green chile sauce. That's Hatch green chile, and not the kind you can get in a can at the supermarket, either. Spring for mailorder from Bueno or try calling Horseman's Haven restaurant at (505) 471-5420 to try to talk them into putting some of their sauce on dry ice and sending it to you. Or you can get someone to bring you some from the southwest—I was just in Scottsdale visiting my family and checked the frozen section on a whim and there it was.....I could hear Beethoven's Ninth in the background as I opened the freezer door, and I bought as much as I could carry back with me. It's that good.

Beans I'm slightly indifferent to after I have the rest in order, but I have some plans to get some from Rancho Gordo along with some posole, which has nothing to do with huevos but would go well with all that green chile you'll soon have after you decide to believe all of us in this thread who are telling you it's the best thing ever.
posted by felix grundy at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2009

Whoa. Bueno's shipping costs have gone up considerably since I last wanted green chile so much that I was thinking of mail ordering it. I would put your efforts into making someone bring some back to you from NM or AZ.
posted by felix grundy at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2009

Touch of chipotle. Done.

(Some great suggestions in here)
posted by Roach at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

First basic choice: sloppy or tidy (the photo linked in this post is about as tidy as I've ever seen huevos rancheros). I like them sloppy, with over-medium eggs, ranchera sauce, frijoles de olla, etc, but if you want them tidy you need to make sure to select your ingredients accordingly.

Second, don't be shy with the fat. None of this eggs cooked in a non-stick skillet with a hint of cooking spray and plain beans nonsense. Cook the eggs (ideally in cast iron) in bacon grease (better) or oil (acceptable) like you are meant to. If the beans are refried, don't use non-fat refried beans. Puh-leeze. Eat healthy later in the day, and enjoy some good flavors at breakfast.

Third, huevos rancheros is (like a lot of Mexican food) very simple in ingredients, and hence is totally dependent on the quality of those ingredients. If the beans come in a can with no Spanish on the label, the tortillas were made weeks ago in a far-off factory, and so on, well, those huevos rancheros are going to taste about like you'd expect. There's no filler in huevos rancheros -- nothing to hide second-rate ingredients. Use fresh eggs, ideally free-range and organic. Get good tortillas, or learn to make your own. Make or buy good beans, whether de olla, charros, or refried. Make or buy good salsa.

Fourth, not all salsas are equal, and they aren't interchangeable. Unless you are a tidy h.r. liker, you'll want a sloppy salsa on your huevos -- traditional ranchera salsa, or one of those yummy New Mexican green salsa, say. A vinegar-based hot sauce (eg Tabasco) can be used to spice up your plate, but shouldn't be the dominant flavor. And if you like a salsa fresca (made from chopped up tomatoes, chiles, etc), have it at room temperature rather than cold from the fridge, so that it doesn't make your eggs all cold when you ladle it on.
posted by Forktine at 5:09 PM on January 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Second, don't be shy with the fat. None of this eggs cooked in a non-stick skillet with a hint of cooking spray

Pshaw, it matters not how you cook those eggs, but that goes both ways, most people put lots of fatty cheese etc. on this so then cooking the eggs nonfat, or even ditching a few yolks, has little overall effect. You can make this pretty heart healthy if you want with lowfat cheese, few yolks, low car tortillas etc. Done well the difference between the lowfat, low carb version and the high bad everything version is not that big - hot sauce, very hot sauce.

Third, huevos rancheros is... totally dependent on the quality of those ingredients.

posted by caddis at 7:04 PM on January 28, 2009

Nthing green chili. And green chilis in said green chili. Huevos Rancheros simply isn't right with any lesser porky deliciousness.

(Though making your own refried beans is a very good start - canned will never satisfy you again and it takes 8 hours of soaking, 4 hours in a slow cooker - all inactive time - and about 5 minutes of chopping onions & garlic and refrying to make enough for a month.)
posted by abulafa at 7:21 PM on January 28, 2009

I've been to this restaurant, and these are great.

someone else describes:
A restaurant where I live (Northampton, MA) serves extremely unauthentic huevos--big pieces of grilled cornbread (the sweet kind) with plain black beans, eggs (over easy but I prefer scrambled), cheddar, and pico de gallo.
posted by esnyder at 11:01 AM on January 29, 2009

I have only ever tried the abomination that passes for Huevos Rancheros at the breakfast buffet in chain hotels in the US but this sounds delicious. Guess what I'll be buying for weekend brunch!
posted by ClanvidHorse at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2009

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