HDL COOKS: Huevos Rancheros

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A weekend brunch is really the most comforting thing. Whether you’re gearing up for a busy day, nursing a hangover or just want to unleash your inner middle-class white woman, brunch is ever the solution to your weekend woes.

Huevos rancheros recipe

Brunch has always promised that little bit more than the traditionally beige breakfast plate. I’m not a fan of the carb-up and go method for my morning meal, so I get really excited when I have the opportunity to create (and eat) something a little more vibrant at the weekend.

Living in a household where we don’t eat pork seems to baffle many a brunch fanatic. “But how do you cope without bacon?!” is a sentence I would be happy to never hear again. The answer is, easily – gladly, even. I think being imaginative with what is so often a bog-standard meal can be really rewarding – and I would encourage even the most carnivorous among us to branch out and attempt a good vegetarian brunch recipe.

This weekend, I was suffering from a severe lack of heat. I’d fallen victim to the respiratory virus that seems to be doing the rounds (again and again, apparently), and in the week, I’d missed out on my favourite component in any meal – a healthy dose of spice.

To remedy this, I settled on a cuisine that lends itself fantastically well to colour, flavour and spice and made my own take on huevos rancheros.

Now, I am cautious when undertaking staple dishes of other cultures, and I’m still trying to figure out where the line is between preferential adaptation of a dish and a straight up culinary massacre. My version of huevos rancheros omits the refried beans – out of sheer convenience more than anything – and I don’t think it suffers too much for that. However, you’re welcome to disagree! And while you’re at it, feel free to slate my use of wheat tortilla instead of corn, which I’m sure is a criminal offence to some.

Despite my slight adaptation of the traditional recipe (if there even exists such a thing for a dish so widely-replicated), I think this version of huevos rancheros does the job. Perfectly cooked eggs, topped with a sprinkling of chilli powder and cumin for flavour, with a crunchy, toasted tortilla and adorned with an array of fresh-flavoured toppings. It manages to balance the hearty comfort of breakfast food with a piquant freshness from a lime-drenched pico de gallo and a scattering of jalapeños. The avocado provides a velvety addition to the mix, and with a dollop of creme fraiche and a dusting of black pepper, you have yourself a meal that will satisfy all your brunch-related desires. And not a rasher of bacon in sight!

Huevos rancheros | serves 2

4 eggs
2 tortillas
2 small, ripe avocados, sliced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot chilli powder
Fresh coriander, chopped
A handful pickled jalapeños
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pico de gallo
1 small white onion
2 tomatoes on the vine
1 red pepper
1 red chilli
juice of one lime
handful coriander

1. Make your pico de gallo. My favourite way to do this might shock my best friend’s mother, who insists on carefully and meticulously chopping each component into miniscule pieces, but hey – call it millenial convenience or sheer laziness – I just really like my food processor. Chuck your onions, pepper, chilli and coriander into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then add your tomatoes and pulse again – but be careful not to pulverise it! If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to finely chop the above ingredients by hand as you scoff at my laziness! Then squeeze a lime over the mix and add in around half a teaspoon of salt, mixing to combine.

2. Fry your eggs to your preference. This is not a territory I’m going to encroach upon, and tell you all how to fry your eggs. I like mine to have a fully cooked white and a yolk that’s runny in the middle, which I do by splashing hot oil over the surface when it’s nearly cooked – but it’s all up to you. The only amendment I make to this recipe is seasoning my eggs as soon as I crack them into the pan – sprinkle salt, pepper, cumin and chilli powder over the top of your eggs.

3. Toast your tortillas. Heat a griddle pan and cook your tortillas on both sides, until they are rigid and have distinctive griddle marks on them.

4. Place your eggs on top of your toasted tortilla, and top with pico de gallo, creme fraiche, avocado jalapenos, and chopped coriander. Finally, season to your taste and enjoy!

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