The beantime is, I’ve decided, that stretch of days after making a giant pot of red beans during which this debate is always on your mind: Do I freeze them? Keep eating bowls of beans and rice? Or think of some interesting things to do with them? Usually, in our house, we freeze a portion and keep eating red beans at every meal, in some form. Burritos made from red beans, rice, and cheese, or a quesadilla with red beans, cilantro, and pepper jack are two common things we use them for, but huevos rancheros is undoubtedly my favorite. Plus you can eat it any old time of day! It’s a super-easy dish to make, and I’ve got a couple lil’ twists to share.
First, turn your red beans into “refried” beans: place them in a wide-mouthed pot or skillet, and let them simmer away, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. They’ll thicken up considerably; you can also mash them a bit in the pan for more of a refried-bean texture. If you don’t have leftover beans, just heat up a can of refried beans or regular beans (season them well) that you mash into a paste.
Next–and this is one of my favorite parts of the whole shebang–fry some flour tortillas. Lots of folks make huevos rancheros without frying their torts, but they adds such a great toastiness and texture, I just have to have them fried. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet, heat it until very hot, then fry the tortillas for 20 to 30 seconds on each side. They’ll puff up a lot in the center and get little golden, toasty spots all over. Good stuff!
See? Golden, toasty goodness. You can let them get browner than this if you like.
The final cooking stage involves salsa and eggs. You’ll need 2 to 3 cups of salsa to serve 2 to 3 people. I like Herdez hot Casera, with a little mild thrown in to temper the heat. Medium will work as well, but I think that hot has a lot more character, maybe even better ingredients. If you’re salsaless, just improvise a chunky, spicy tomato sauce with Rotel, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and other vegetables, whatever. Wing it!
Discard the oil from the tortilla-frying pan and dump the salsa in there. If you’re going to cook your eggs in the salsa like I do, make sure it completely covers the bottom of the pan. Heat it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.
For the eggs: traditionally, eggs for huevos rancheros are fried, and they’re dang good that way. But I’ve started poaching the eggs right in the salsa. It’s easy, they come out great, and it saves one more step & dirty pan. Just crack each egg into a small bowl, then gently pour onto the simmering salsa. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 4 to 8 minutes, depending on heat and your desired degree of runniness. If the whites aren’t cooking as fast as you’d like, pour a little of the tomato sauce over them.
Now for the fun part: make some food art! Paint a tortilla with some beans,
then top with an egg (or two) and some salsa,
and finish with grated cheese, cilantro, and sour cream…oh, and guacamole if you got it.
Red beans have never looked so gorgeous!
- 2 cups leftover red beans, give or take
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 8" flour tortillas
- 2 to 3 cups salsa
- 2 to 4 eggs, depending on appetites
- pinch salt
- ½ cup grated pepper jack or other cheese
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup sour cream
- guacamole (optional)
- In a small skillet, heat the beans over high heat until they start to simmer. Reduce heat and keep at an uncovered simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and pasty.
- In a skillet large enough to hold a tortilla, heat a thin layer of vegetable oil over high heat, roughly ½ cup. When hot, add a flour tortilla and cook for 20 to 30 seconds (it will puff up in the center). Turn over with tongs to cook the other side, until golden and toasty. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with second tortilla.
- Discard the oil in the skillet and return it to a high heat. Add the salsa; when it boils, reduce heat to a low simmer.
- Crack each egg into a small bowl. Gently pour out each egg onto the salsa, sprinkle a little salt over them, and cover the pan. Simmer covered until the eggs are set to your desired degree of doneness, about 4 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Place a tortilla on a plate, then top with beans, salsa and eggs, and finish with cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and guacamole. Ole!