In Alaska, the winter is cold and dark. It’s as certain as death and taxes. I decided that this year, I needed to ring in the New Year with a little sunshine. And maybe a pool, with one of those umbrella drinks. A new bathing suit, freshly lacquered toenails, sunglasses. Yes, definitely needed 2013 to start with these things. It’s just that I didn’t want to spend much money to get them. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do.
I crashed my parents’ vacation.
Well, sort of. A hop-skip-jump-swim-belly crawl later (I swear, if you try to use miles for a plane ticket anymore you have to make 12 stops before your final destination) I landed at Palm Springs International Airport ready to interrupt my parents’ relaxing, peaceful visit to their condo with my demands for hiking, shopping, trips to Trader Joe’s, sojourns to In-N-Out burger, and chile rellanos from our favorite Mexican joint, La Perlita.
They absolutely LOVE IT when I visit. I’m nearly certain they love it. Or at least they don’t mind. So far, they’ve never actually kicked me out.
My first morning in Palm Springs, my Dad made us his version of huevos rancheros. Having grown up in Los Angeles, Dad has always loved the food of Mexico. We grew up eating his homemade enchiladas, tamales, tacos, and of course chile rellanos. To this date, Mexican cuisine is our family’s favorite comfort food.
This dish is my Mom’s favorite thing to eat for breakfast. While Mom and I sat at the breakfast bar scarfing down our eggs, she declared with a full mouth: “If you make these for any man, he will want to marry you!”
Aww, Mom. Always wishful thinking. God bless her.
These huevos rancheros are delicious and simple, although they dirty nearly every pot in the kitchen. Save it for a weekend treat, unless you’re retired and living the dream in Palm Springs like my folks. Plus, they’re pretty darn healthy and hearty. Before I left, I requested them one last time. Pretty as a picture!
Once you master Dad’s technique for cooking the eggs (which we call “Hoppy eggs” named after my Dad’s former Alaska DOT coworker who made these eggs at their haul road camp on the Dalton Highway- Alaska’s road to the North Slope), you can put any kind of spin on this that your heart desires. Use green chile sauce instead of red, or top with avocado and sour cream. Dad’s version doesn’t use rice, which simplifies things as well.
Man, just looking at these pictures makes me want to hop on a plane back down to the condo…
My Dad’s Huevos Rancheros
4 small corn tortillas
1/4 cup. Vegetable oil
1-16 oz. can vegetarian refried beans, plus 2 tablespoons of water
1-19 oz. can red enchilada sauce (such as La Victoria)
1/4 cup prepared chunky salsa (ideally whatever you have left over in the fridge from last night’s Mexican takeout)
Butter for pan
Crumbled queso fresca (or shredded cheddar if you prefer)
Chopped fresh cilantro
(Note: It works best if you make each to order, since it goes fairly quickly once you start assembling.)
1. Add the refried beans to a small saucepan and place over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of water; cook until beans are warm and “spreadable.”
2. In the meantime, add the enchilada sauce and salsa to another small saucepan and place over medium heat until warm and bubbly.
3. Place a small skillet over medium heat. Brush a tortilla with a bit of the oil (or spray lightly with cooking spray) and heat the tortilla in the skillet on each side for 1-2 minutes, or until soft and warm. Slide onto a serving plate. Top the tortilla with several spoonfuls of beans and spread evenly.
4. In the same small skillet, melt a little butter in the pan and crack two eggs into the skillet (you can crack them into a small bowl first and then slide them into the skillet if you’re worried about breaking them). Let the eggs set untouched for about 30 seconds, then add 1-2 teaspoons of water to the pan. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the eggs sizzle and steam for 2 minutes, or long enough for the yellow to slightly set but still leave a runny yolk.
5. Slide the eggs onto the tortilla with beans. Top with the enchilada sauce, queso fresco, and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately!
Enjoy! xo H
About Heidi Drygas
Heidi was born and raised in Fairbanks, and grew up in and around the waters of the Chena River. She graduated with a degree in History from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and received her law degree from Willamette University. A lawyer by day and self-taught home cook at night, she is passionate about cooking and creating tasty, uncomplicated food. She is also a firm believer in buying local produce and products whenever possible, and is an avid fisherwoman. She currently lives in Anchorage with her trusty terrier, Milo.