Recipe: A brunch that's "muy bien" - Huevos rancheros (rancher's eggs)

Tasty huevos!
I like cooking. I wouldn’t be writing a food blog if I didn’t. Yet sometimes, no matter how well developed someone’s culinary skills might be, a hankering develops for a dish that is tasty whilst simultaneously requiring only the minimum of effort in the kitchen.

Breakfast is always one meal that I prefer to be flavoursome and simple, even at weekends, when I have a bit more time to prepare food. Saturday and Sunday morning staples at Scrumptious Scran Towers tend to consist of the likes of a decent bacon buttie (dry cure on sourdough, preferably), maybe scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms, or if I have the ingredients to hand, a ham and cheese omelette. Yet now and again I yearn for something a bit more adventurous that’s still easy to prepare and speedy to cook.

Bring on the toms & eggs...
So this Saturday I decided to rustle up a breakfast dish that certainly packs a flavour punch, is relatively healthy and, most importantly, is a cinch to prepare - my own particular take on huevos rancheros. A staple of rural Mexico, the literal translation of this delicacy is “rancher’s eggs”, as it was staple breakfast fare for those working the fields or tending livestock.

Traditionally, huevos rancheros combines a spicy, tomato-based sauce with fried eggs, maize tortillas, with a side of refried beans. But to be honest, this is a wee bit elaborate for me, especially if I’m cooking on a Sunday morning following a somewhat ‘lively’ Saturday night. So my recipe concentrates on an adapted version of the spicy sauce, which – when ready – is used to poach a couple of fresh eggs. This is all served with ample slices of crusty bread.

The recipe below serves two people generously, and I leave it entirely up to taste as to how spicy or otherwise the sauce is made (think of it as a sort of edible Bloody Mary mixture, but without the vodka). Of course, if you have house guests for breakfast it’s very straightforward to just double or triple the ingredients to ensure everyone is properly fed.

 ¡Buen provecho!



Ingredients
  • A good glug of olive oil (3-4 tbsp)
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • Half a dozen (or so) large chestnut mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • A good pinch (dependent on how spicy, and the preferred level of heat) of dried chilli flakes
  • A 400g tin or carton of good quality chopped tomatoes
  • A generous squirt of tomato puree 
  • ½ tsp thyme leaves (preferably fresh, and chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf (again, fresh if available)
  • 2 large eggs – hen or duck
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Preparation and cooking
  1. In a medium sized frying pan heat the oil over a medium heat, until hot but not smoking. Add a pinch of salt followed by the onion and pepper. Fry until they begin to soften, stirring to ensure they don’t brown.
  2. Add the garlic, and chilli flakes, give a good stir and cook for a further minute.
  3. Now add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until softened and just starting to take on some colour.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes, followed by the tomato puree, thyme and bay leaf. Give the ingredients a good mix and when bubbling turn down the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Check the seasoning.
  5. With the back of a tablespoon, make two indents in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each of these. Place a lid or plate over the frying pan and cook until the eggs just set.
  6. Serve at once with lots of sliced bread, or tortillas and refried beans, depending on your mood…
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