When the name of a recipe refers to a style of cooking, you have a good idea of what’s in a dish. Hunter’s style, for instance, means there are mushrooms; à la grand mère tells you grandma cooked with onions and potatoes, and marchand de vin says the sauce was made with shallots and red wine. In the loosely regulated world of cooking, if the recipe has been tweaked but still has the basic ingredients, the name stays the same.
Huevos rancheros, which means eggs ranch-style, is a marvelously uncomplicated breakfast dish of fried tortillas with fried eggs and tomato-chile sauce. In Mexico, where lunch is eaten late and breakfasts are hearty, a plate of huevos rancheros with a side of refried beans is about right to get through the long morning. It’s also a good example of a recipe that lends itself to endless variations. We have seen recipes that call for scrambled or poached eggs and others where the eggs are cooked right in the sauce. The sauce also lends itself to different seasonings; some are made with garlic and oregano, others with cumin and bay leaves.
Our impression is that ranchers don’t fuss with garnishes, but cooks who like extra flourishes decorate their huevos with everything from shredded cheese and cilantro to sliced avocado. For our huevos rancheros, we used two pans; one for the tortillas and another for the eggs. One large skillet will work, but it should not be too hot when cooking the eggs or the butter will burn. Once everything is ready, the dish is easy to assemble. We did some minor tinkering, but our recipe has all the elements of the real thing, and we feel comfortable calling it huevos rancheros.
By Jean Kressy.