As you can tell, lately I’ve been on a Mexican food kick – burritos one night, mole the next, and then for breakfast a big plate of beans and eggs in the form of huevos rancheros. As much as I love pico de gallo (the ubiquitous dip served with chips in every authentic or wanna-be Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant), it is impossible to make at this time of the year ‘cause the tomatoes are so anemic and tasteless, so I try to make my own “authentic” Mexican cooked sauces to keep on hand when I need a south of the border fix.
To make the huevos, griddle up some corn tortillas (one for each serving and a couple for dipping and cleaning the plate). Top with refried beans, then with 2 fried eggs, sunny-side-up, drizzle with tomato sauce, and serve as is or with a side of yellow rice. On this morning, I grilled some of those sweet little peppers that come, pre-bagged, in a colorful mix that I found languishing in the back of the fridge to accent the plate as we were having friends join us.
Here’s my sauce:
1 pound ripe (ha!) tomatoes
Couple of chiles – jalapeño, Serrano or whatever is available, cut in half, lengthwise
3 cloves garlic
Cilantro or epazote to taste
Salt to taste
Place the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in a stovetop grill pan over medium heat. Grill, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until nicely charred and soft to the touch. You might have to step away from the stove from time to time as the fumes from the cooking chiles can be powerful.
Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool enough to handle, core the tomatoes, stem the chiles, and push the skin from the garlic.
Combine the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the cilantro or epazote and season with salt. Process, using quick on and off turns, to make a chunky sauce.
Scrape the sauce into a clean saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes just to allow flavors to blend. Taste and, if necessary, add more cilantro and salt.
Serve or transfer to a container and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week or so.
And here’s my refried beans:
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat or lard (if you want to be good use canola oil, but why?)
Any amount of cooked beans you like – either pinto or black (with cooking liquid separately reserved if you have it) – I usually make about 4 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced or more if you like
3 sprigs epazote or cilantro or more if you like, finely chopped
1 jalapeño serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
Salt to taste
Heat the fat in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the drained beans along with the garlic, herbs, and chile. Cook, pushing down on the beans with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until all of the beans have been mashed into the fat. Lower the heat and season with salt. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and adding reserved bean cooking liquid to keep the mixture moist, but not runny, for about 20 minutes or until the flavors are well blended and the mix is very flavorful. Serve immediately or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.