I sigh with longing whenever a California friend tells me about a homestyle Mexican meal from some no-atmosphere place in an LA strip mall with handmade tortillas and chile rellenos. My friend Stacey got tired of my whining about the Mexican food desert in Massachusetts and generously sent me Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen last fall.
I dove right in, making sauces, beans, and tacos for some rather festive Saturday night dinner parties. Many of these dishes were built from Bayless’s Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce, which he also recommends as a base for chilaquiles (sauce + tortilla chips+ cheese=yum) and huevos rancheros. I didn’t make either, thinking they were too casual for a dinner party.
So I had huevos rancheros on the brain. I also had stashed in the freezer some extra batches of the sauce that I made after a Costco frenzy left me with pounds of fresh tomatoes.
With my friends Iggy and Cooper hanging out in the kitchen, a cold Pacifico on the counter, and streaming KCRW providing the soundtrack, I started with the quick refried beans:
2 tsp canola oil, or any neutral tasting oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium-sized skillet or saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat, and add onions. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until soft. Add beans, 3 TBS water, and cumin, and cook at medium heat, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beans should get soft enough that you can mash them with the back of a wooden spoon.
Next I heated up the tomato-chipotle sauce. If you don’t have Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, make the tomato-chipotle sauce from Smitten Kitchen. The migas part comes together quickly:
Migas, adapted from Smitten Kitchen:
6 corn tortillas, cut into 6-8 wedges
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 chopped pickled guindilla peppers or jalapenos (optional)
3 TBS chopped cilantro
grated jack cheese or queso fresco for garnish (optional)
In a large skillet, add canola or other neutral oil so there’s about a half inch of oil in the pan. Saute the tortilla wedges in batches until they are golden brown, and then put on a paper towels to drain. Salt the chips.
This next part goes fast, so it’s best to have the bowls ready: Put a scoop of refried beans at the bottom of each bowl, and add the tomato sauce around the edges of the beans.
Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat, add a pat of butter or a swig of olive oil, and add eggs and chips. Break up chips and gently scramble the eggs, adding salt and taking care to not overcook the eggs. When nearly done, spoon the eggs over the prepared bowls of beans, and top with peppers (if using), cilantro, and cheese. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.