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08/15/2018

~My Texican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast~

IMG_1517Classically, soft-yolked fried eggs, served atop a lightly-fried corn tortilla, accompanied by a scoop of creamy refried beans, then drizzled with a cooked tomato-and-chile-pepper sauce (not fresh salsa), is known as: huevos rancheros.  Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, ranch eggs, rancher's eggs or ranch-style eggs was the typical big, bold stick-to-the-ribs start to the long, laborious dawn-to-dusk workdays of cattle ranchers and ranch hands throughout the wide-open cattle-grazing spaces of Mexico and the American Southwest.  It wasn't fancy, it was filling.

Huevos Rancheros = ingredients on-hand in a ranch kitchen.

IMG_1505As long as one can cook an egg, this dish is easy, as, sans the eggs, everything can be made ahead.  If you're Texican or cook Tex-Mex fare consistently, all the components are already in your kitchen.  The eggs are typically fried, sunny-side-up or over-easy, but poached are dreamy too.  Why? When you cut into breakfast, the yolk flows like lava into the rest of the meal.  If yolk lava doesn't float your boat, request or order Huevos Mexicana and "Cookie"* (see note below) will substitute scrambled eggs.

IMG_1578 IMG_1578 IMG_1578 IMG_1578 IMG_1578 IMG_1578 IMG_1578Corn tortillas are classic, but flour tortillas are popular too (especially with me), and, I'm using recently-invented stand-and-stuff flour tortilla boats today -- past adorable, they're practical (the boat/bowl-shape holds everything together), and, they're convenient (easy to portion and serve).  That said, when using taco boats, because of their compact size, I fry my eggs in ring molds, in order to corral them (to prevent them from spreading out across the skillet).  Spray the skillet and the inside of the rings with no-stick cooking spray, crack 1 large egg into each ring, then fry to desired degree of doneness.  Remove rings and season with sea salt and sriracha seasoning. Serve ASAP.

*Note:  The ranch's kitchen manager and/or mobile chuck-wagon cook was usually nicknamed “Cookie”. He was almost always a he, as he performed multiple heavy-duty tasks to meet the everyday needs of the ranch and/or its camp site du jour.  Additionally, he was second or third in command of the outfit, behind the ranch owner or his trail boss.  Due to his importance, the cook was paid about $45 - $50 per month -- the wranglers and cow punchers received $25 - $30 while on the trail, and much less (sometimes half pay) when working the ranch between cattle drives.

IMG_1531Huevos Rancheros = tortillas, eggs, refritos, chili sauce.

Back then, electricity and refrigeration hadn't been invented, and even afterward, it took years for either to reach remote locals.  Staples common to a well-stocked ranch kitchen and chuck wagon were limited to items that stored and traveled well -- in both cases, for long periods of time in a harsh environment.  Larders contained cured meats (bacon and ham), lard, onions and potatoes, dried beans, corn, peppers and fruit, uncooked rice and masa harina (corn flour), coffee beans, vinegar, and, sugar, salt and pepper.  As for the incredible, edible, protein-packed egg: chickens wandered around on every ranch -- and Cookie took his best laying hens along on every journey.

IMG_1554I like salsa fresca (uncooked salsa) as much as the next person, but, when I'm making huevos rancheros (ranch-style eggs) for breakfast or brunch, or, a Mexican-style drowned torta (a sandwich drenched in sauce) for lunch or dinner, I make an all-purpose Mexican-style sauce with a thick, semi-chunky consistency and a smokey, spicy, complex flavor, meaning: a cooked tomato & chile chili sauce that can be served hot or warm.  It's also a 15-20 minute quick-to-make sauce using pantry and refrigerator staples.

IMG_7888Refried beans are required.  I use my recipe for Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip. Mixed with a can of diced green chiles, salsa verde, lime juice, Mexican crema, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper Jack cheese, canned refried beans never tasted so good.  Prepare them as I direct, reheat them gently in the microwave, then dollop them on the huevos rancheros at serving time. These couldn't be any easier.

6a0120a8551282970b0223c849deb2200cFancy fresh garnishes or perishable appointments are not required. Cooking, in the days prior to electricity and refrigeration, was indeed a sport.  All the yummy stuff we can load atop our huevos rancheros today (grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, minced cilantro, lime wedges and freshly-diced avocado and tomatoes, etc.), even if available to them, was impossible to store or transport.  That said Mexican-Style Adobo Rice is a fine addition to this manly breakfast -- it too loves to be bathed in egg yolk and a drizzle of tomato-chile sauce.

On each plate, in the following order, decoratively arrange:

IMG_1500corn or flour tortillas, or, individual-sized taco boats/bowls, 1 tortilla or 2 mini-sized boats/bowls per serving

soft-yolked fried or over-easy eggs, hot out of the skillet, 1-2 eggs per serving

Mexican-style refried beans, ready and warm, from above recipe, 1/4-1/2-3/4 cups per serving

Mexican-style adobo rice, ready and warm, from above recipe, for accompaniment, 1/4-1/2-3/4 cup per serving (optional)

Mexican-style tomato & chipotle-chile chili sauce, ready and warm, from above recipe, for drizzling or dipping, 2-4 tablespoons per serving

Bibb lettuce leaves, avocado and tomato slices, lime wedges and minced cilantro, because they look pretty and taste great with this mouth-watering breakfast 

"Come & get it while it's hot, then break an egg...

IMG_1540... & pass the spicy tomato & chipotle-chile chili sauce."

IMG_1563My Mexican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast:  Recipe yields instructions to prepare 12 servings tortilla-sized huevos rancheros, or, 12 servings of mini-taco bowl/boats.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; appropriately-sized skillet or saucepan for frying, poaching or scrambling eggs

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1870f13970cCook's Note:  If you were a cowboy on a cattle drive, whatever you ate for breakfast had to be substantial and the Denver omelette is another protein-packed morning meal.  For a home-home-on-the-range, more-modern-day breakfast, ~ My Kinda Cowboy Breakfast:   The Denver Omelette ~, is a must-try.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

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