Friday, May 20, 2011

Mexican Breakfast Three Ways

Get your mind out of the gutter! It's not a Mexican breakfast three-way, it's Mexican breakfast THREE WAYS. Sheesh! I recently made a batch of red chile sauce with plans on making huevos rancheros for Cinco de Mayo (yes, I know this post is late to the party, but I made some of these dishes during the following week too). I made a lot more sauce than I needed, so I got to thinking about all the different uses for red chile sauce. The possibilities are endless. Enchiladas are a really common creation, but I decided to focus my thoughts on various breakfast dishes I could make using the same sauce. I certainly wasn't going to waste all that yummy sauce! I also had plenty of leftover corn tortillas, some leftover refried black beans, cheese, sour cream, etc. The main creation here is obviously the huevos rancheros, or ranch-style eggs. There are numerous variations on this dish, but I made these my way with warm corn tortillas, a base of creamy refried black beans, a touch of sauce, perfect sunny-side up eggs, cheese, sour cream, and a side of sliced avocado... to keep it real. I mean serious business. This is definitely fork and knife fare.

These huevos rancheros are considerably healthy, believe it or not. I used very little oil in making the sauce, the refried beans, and frying the eggs. I also used low-fat sour cream (although you can use full fat, no judgment), and a really restrained portion of cheese per person. Although the dish is technically NOT low in fat, the fats it does contain are healthy ones. Egg yolks are actually really beneficial. They are a natural source of lecithin, which improves brain function, promotes liver and reproductive health, lowers bad cholesterol, promotes heart health, and can even aid in weight loss by breaking down fats. Avocados are also high in fat, but healthy ones. Eating avocados can help lower bad cholesterol as well. Also, they taste awesome!

With some of the huevos rancheros leftovers (including some leftover refried black beans), I followed up with some breakfast tacos, an easy and incredibly satisfying alternative to the more popular breakfast burrito. You can really add whatever you like, but I kept it pretty simple. These were very satisfying and are packed with protein. They will keep you full for hours! A good way to start the day, and easy enough to throw together on a weekday before heading off to work. I started out planning to make 2 tacos, but 2 eggs were a bit much for 2 tortillas, so I quickly heated up another tortilla and assembled 3 instead of 2. The recipe is super flexible, so definitely feel free to play around with it until you find a balance of ingredients you love!

The third dish I made with my red chile sauce was one of my all time favorites, chilaquiles. I've actually shared a recipe for these before, using a different sauce and adding some extra protein in the form of black beans. You can keep this simple or spruce them up to your heart's content. This time around I kept to the basic requirements. Fried tortillas, sauce, and a protein. Eggs are my favorite addition to chilaquiles, although I've seen them done with chicken before. Eggs are a necessity for me though, and I never leave those out. The red chile sauce was great, but you can also easily whip up the other sauce I share in my original chilaquiles post. Also, unlike the other 2 recipes I'm sharing today, for the chilaquiles I definitely suggest thinning out the sauce with a little water to reach the desired consistency. They will coat and absorb into the fried tortillas more easily. This dish takes a little more time to prep, as you must pan-fry the corn tortilla wedges, but it's definitely worth it and very flavorful :)

Huevos Rancheros
Serves 4

Refried Black Beans:
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. red chile sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Water, as needed (about 3/4 cup to 1 cup or more)

8 corn tortillas
1 cup red chile sauce, heated in a saucepan
Pan spray, oil, or butter, as needed
8 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 avocados
1 T. lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)

To make the refried black beans: Heat up the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat over medium heat, being careful not to burn the onions and garlic. Add the drained beans along with the red chile sauce, cumin and salt. Cook the beans over medium heat until the begin to soften, smashing them with the back of a spoon against the edge of the pot to start breaking them down a bit, about 10 minutes. It will most likely seem a bit dry at this point, so add some water a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Continue to cook about 10 to 15 minutes or so, adding more liquid if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Keep warm (add more water if it starts to dry out or thicken too much before ready to serve).

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 corn tortilla at a time to the dry pan, for about 30 seconds per side to soften and heat the tortillas.

Meanwhile, heat another non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. The size of the skillet will determine how many eggs you can fry at a time. I suggest cooking 2 to 4 at a time if your pan allows it. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of butter or oil to the frying pan depending on the size of the pan (or spray with pan spray) and crack eggs into the medium-hot pan. Immediately lower the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and cover the pan. This will allow the eggs to gently cook and the steam trapped by the cover will cook the whites on top and prevent the slimy egg white around the perimeter of the yolks for your sunny-side up eggs. Remove the lid occasionally to see when the whites on top are opaque (cooked through), then add 1 tablespoon cheese to the top of each egg and cover again for another minute or so until the cheese is melted.

Halve, peel, and slice the avocados and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing.

Place 2 hot tortillas side by side on each serving plate. Onto each tortilla, spread 1/4 cup refried black beans, followed by 2 T. sauce, and 1 fried egg. Garnish each plate with 1/2 an avocado and a 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve immediately.

Red Chile Sauce
Makes 3 cups

5 dried Anaheim chilies (1 oz), stems removed and broken into pieces
Boiling water, as needed
1 T. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices, or 2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Place dried chilies in a metal bowl and pour boiling water over the top to cover. Weigh down the chilies with a small plate if needed. Allow chilies to soak for 10 to 15 minutes until softened. Strain chilies, reserving soaking water.

In a small sauté pan, add the oil over medium heat and then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened and golden, and then add the garlic for another minute.

To a blender, add onion mixture, softened chilies, tomatoes, salt, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Taste the reserved chili soaking water. If it is not bitter, add 1/2 cup of the liquid to the blender. If the soaking water is bitter, add 1/2 cup plain water to the blender. Puree until smooth.

Pour mixture into a saucepan and heat through, mixing occasionally. Cover if it starts to splatter. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more water. The sauce is now ready to use as desired.

Breakfast Tacos
Makes 3 (Serves 1 hungry person or 3 less hungry people)

3 corn tortillas
2 eggs, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup refried black beans, heated
3 tsp. red chile sauce, heated (or salsa)
3 tsp. sour cream (light is fine)

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 corn tortilla at a time to the dry pan, for about 30 seconds per side to soften and heat the tortillas. Set the tortillas aside on a serving plate.

Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper. In the same non-stick skillet add the eggs, lower the heat to medium-low and stir with a wooden spoon until the eggs start to firm up but are still fairly runny. Add the cheese and continue to mix and cook until the eggs are scrambled yet still on the soft side (not overcooked or dry).

Spread the refried black beans over the warm tortillas and top with the scrambled eggs, distributing evenly. Spoon a teaspoon of red chile sauce onto each followed by a teaspoon of sour cream. Serve immediately.

Serves 1

Vegetable oil, as needed
4 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1/2 cup red chile sauce
About 2 T. water, or more as needed
2 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled or shredded cheese, such as cotija, queso fresco, Monterey Jack, or feta (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the pan with about 1/8 inch deep of oil. Add a single layer of corn tortilla wedges at a time and fry for a few minutes per side until lightly golden and crisp, flipping with tongs. Set fried tortillas aside on a paper-towel lined sheet pan, and continue pan-frying until all the tortilla wedges are fried. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain off most of the oil from the pan, leaving just a tablespoon or two.

In a small saucepan, heat the red chile sauce over medium-low heat until it is warmed through. Add a little water to thin it out, starting with a couple tablespoons and adding more if desired.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Add the fried tortillas back into the hot skillet with the reserved oil, and set it over low heat. Pour the eggs over the fried tortillas and mix constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to scramble the eggs, breaking up the eggs as necessary to cook and evenly distribute.

When the eggs are about halfway cooked, but still soft, add the sauce, and some cheese (if desired), reserving some for garnish. Mix thoroughly so the ingredients are well-combined. Cook for a few more minutes over low heat to allow the tortillas to absorb some of the sauce. They should be an almost "al dente" texture, not too crisp (like a chip) and not soggy either, but still have a bite to them, kind of in between.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately topped with reserved cheese.

*Note* Check out my original chilaquiles post with a recipe for a different sauce and thoughts on other mix-ins.


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