Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo Refried Beans

A reader recently wrote on our Facebook wall, wondering if we had a recipe for huevos rancheros. During all of our time in Mexico, I don’t think I ever actually had a plate of the classic breakfast dish, made with tortillas and salsa. Now that I think about it, in fact, the only place I have eaten huevos rancheros is in California’s Highland Park neighborhood, an area where the hipsters and their beloved dive bars seem to be just starting to outnumber the actual Latin American immigrants that have lived there since the 1960s. Whether this means that it is a less-than-authentic dish, not frequently found in Mexico outside of all-inclusive resort hotels, or whether it exists only in that very specific segment of Mexican food found in Los Angeles, I’m not sure. I do know that it is a dish that, handled incorrectly and made with lots of sub-par ingredients, can be pretty depressing. Without a bit of care, it’s too easy to end up with an old tortilla floating in a bowl of room temperature salsa. Take your time to make it right, though, and you’ll be the Hero of Brunch.

Huevos Rancheros

The secret to an excellent huevos rancheros is to make as many of the ingredients as possible from scratch. Make your tortillas and start on the salsa the day before you actually want to serve this breakfast, and you’ll find it can come together in just a few minutes. You can either make the refried beans yourself (we provide links below to all of the other recipes you’ll need for a truly “from-scratch” version of this dish), or if you’re pressed for time, there’s no shame in popping open a can of refried beans, thinning them with a little water, and stirring in your sauteed fresh Mexican chorizo. Serve it for brunch with a crisp, refreshing chelada, and you’ve got quite a Sunday ahead of you.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo Refried Beans
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups refried beans (or one can)
  • 4 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Salsa Ranchera (recipe follows)
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup pepper Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cotija or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema, or regular sour cream thinned with milk

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat refried beans, thinned with a little water, until bubbly and hot. In a small frying pan, cook crumbled chorizo until crisp, and drain on paper towels. Add to refried beans, stir to combine, cover, and set aside. In another saucepan, warm salsa.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, and warm the plates you plan to use for serving in the oven. Cover bottom of a medium frying pan with vegetable oil bring to 340 degrees over medium heat. Working one at a time, quickly fry each tortilla, about two seconds per side. Drain tortillas on paper towels, place two tortillas on each plate, and put back in the oven to keep warm.
  3. Fry two eggs at a time in butter until cooked over-easy, with soft yolks. Keep finished eggs warm in oven as you continue cooking.
  4. To assemble: On each plate, place a tablespoon of warm salsa on each tortilla. Top with fried eggs. Top eggs with another spoonful of salsa. Add refried beans to side of plate. Top eggs and beans with a few sprinkles of shredded Jack cheese, then scallions, then cotija (or Parmesan), followed by a sprinkle of cilantro, and a drizzle of the crema. Serve immediately.

Salsa Ranchera

Salsa Ranchera
Makes 2 cups; Adapted from a recipe in Sunset

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano chiles, toasted in a dry skillet until charred, stemmed, and chopped
  • A few shakes of Mexican hot sauce, such as Cholula brand

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine oil and onions. Cook until onions begin to soften, about four minutes. Meanwhile, put tomatoes, garlic, and chiles in bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth but still slightly chunky.
  2. Pour tomato mixture into pot with onions can cook over high heat for five minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Adjust spiciness of salsa by adding hot sauce, as needed.

Huevos Rancheros

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

14 Comments

  1. I would order this at restaurants down here more often, if I knew I would get that! Sadly, huevos rancheros I have had here were a watery mixture of salsa and eggs scrambled together, with a tablespoon of beans on the side with a lonely tortilla chip sticking out of it. Happily though, these photos and descriptions are reminding me what a really delicious thing this can be. So, I will stop the bitchin’ and get to the kitchen!

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    1. Thanks for writing, Suz. I was thinking about the abysmally terrible breakfasts we used to have in Yucatan, and the only thing I can think of is that this simply isn’t a Yucatecan dish. They try and make it, because they know tourists want it, but they can’t really relate to it or feel any natural affinity for it. This is just a theory.

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  2. This looks interesting, since I’ve never had a version with salsa. I live in New Mexico and our Huevos Rancheros uses green chile stew instead of salsa, but I suppose it’s uncommon outside of my state. Anyways, it looks delicious!

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  3. Looking forward to being a hero come Saturday afternoon.

    A question – one of my friends for whom I will be cooking is a vegetarian. Would her serving be completely mutilated if it was void of chorizo? If yes, I may make something else.

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      1. There is a vegetarian chorizo available. I buy it through the health food store at our church. Any 7th Day Adventist church should be able to tell you where you can purchase it. It is absolutely delicious! We made biscuits and gravy for breakfast using the vegetarian chorizo.

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  4. Before I tried this recipe last night, I’d only had huevos rancheros a couple of times, both at restaurants. I’d never made refried beans or homemade tortillas before either, but for some reason I thought it would be a sane thing to do to try all of this in one night.

    I originally intended to make the salsa myself as well, but punted on that idea when I realized I was running out of time, and we like the Kirkland brand from Costco better then other store-bought brand, so… maybe next time.

    Anyway, I used black beans (because I had them and because they cook faster) and the less-than-ideal shelf-stable lard (again, because I already had it). We can get fresh Mexican-style chorizo at pretty much any grocery store here in SC, so that part was easy.

    As for the homemade tortillas, I’d have to say that the difference between these and store-bought is like the difference between bacon and turkey bacon: From now on, I’ll only be able to eat store-bought if I can convince myself that it’s a completely different and unrelated food and then lower my expectations accordingly. (I’m also starting to wonder if ANY of our local Mexican restaurants make their own beans or tortillas.) I didn’t have a tortilla press, but fifteen minutes of pressing the tortillas between two bamboo cutting boards (with parchment paper lining) convinced me that I should buy myself one for Mother’s Day.

    Before I made them myself (listen to me, taking like I’m an expert now), I thought​ of corn tortillas just as a more savory and more authentic alternative to flour tortillas, but now my whole idea of what a corn tortilla is has completely evolved. So much so, in fact, that when I actually have eaten fresh corn tortillas in the past – such as when we went to Oaxaca on our honeymoon – I doubt I even realized that’s what I was eating. The difference really is that stark.

    As for the final product: it was amazing, even with the substitutes I had to make (chives instead of scallions, and a “Mexican” four-cheese shredded blend instead of the specified cheeses). I thought the restaurant versions I’d tried before were good, but these put them to shame. I look forward to trying again (and to following the recipe more closely). With the salsa, beans, and tortillas prepared in advance, it’ll go together in no time.

    To anyone considering this recipe, I urge you to go for it even if you can’t make it “perfect.” Even if you only make one thing from scratch (and I’d start with the tortillas if you do), it’ll likely still be the best you’ve ever had!

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