If for some reason or another I only had one breakfast left on this planet to eat, I would have huevos rancheros. Dinner or lunch, I might need to go with fried chicken, but breakfast…most definitely huevos rancheros. I have a rule when I travel: If I see Huevos Rancheros on the menu, I must order it. So, as a result, I have eaten all kinds of varieties of them—the delicate diet type available at boutique hotels in L.A. (not my fave), or, better yet, the green salsa–slathered beanie mess at an awesome diner in Wilson, Wyoming (yeah, baby, now we’re talking!).
But because I live in Pennsylvania, and prefer my food organic, I have learned to make them myself. And it is good. Very good. Although, the best thing is to have Mexican food the night before so you can make extra beans (the beans are the secret!), and then have leftover beans for a quick and easy huevos rancheros masterpiece for breakfast. So let’s start with my recipe for what I loosely call “Mexicali Beans,” not because they have anything to do with Mexico, or that I’ve even ever been to Mexico, but because there is a Grateful Dead song called “Mexicali Blues,” and I thought it sounded good (and yes, I was a Dead Head once, a very, very long time ago!).
Maria’s Mexicali Beans
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon powdered cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy—if so, you can add more or remove, to taste)
1 can pinto beans
Salt, to taste
Hickory smoke flavoring (optional)
1. Put the olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan.
2. Add the cumin and cayenne pepper, and heat on medium heat until the spices foam a bit.
3. Add the can of beans and salt, to taste, and hickory smoke flavoring—for that extra cowgirl kick!
4. Cook for 15 minutes to a half hour.
Whole wheat tortillas
Shredded Monterey jack or Colby cheese
Fresh salsa, hot sauce, guacamole, sour cream, and whatever else you might want as a topping
1. Heat the tortilla in a cast-iron pan (olive oil optional) on both sides; set aside.
2. Add the heated beans on top of the tortilla, and the grated cheese on top of that.
3. Fry an egg and put it on top of the beans.
4. Add your favorite salsa (I prefer my homemade fresh salsa when it’s in season) and hot sauce, guacamole, if you have it, and sour cream, if you must.