Instead, I want to talk about college football! So if you don't live in the south, you may like college football. You might even think you love it. But until you go to a college football game in the south, you definitely haven't lived it. There's something magical about the first game of the season, and it's accompanying tailgate. The very first subtle smells of fall in the air. But it's still gloriously sunny and warm. The energy and spirit from all the tailgates. The seersucker. The frat boys in bow ties. The girls in cute sundresses. Little kids with their faces painted. The smell of the grill. The judgment-free flow of mimosas and drinks before noon. And the food. The food at a tailgate is vital to the success of the tailgate.
When we were young and responsibility free, our Saturdays in the fall were spent on campus at Georgia Tech. We had a pretty amazing tailgate group. Every week was themed, and there was even a spreadsheet. We took our tailgates seriously, like good southern kids.
So what does all this have to do with huevos rancheros? Well, I loved having breakfast at our tailgates - it gave me an excuse to drink a mimosa ;). And I think this would be a pretty fabulous dish to take to a tailgate. Or if you can't go to a tailgate, then it's definitely a pretty fabulous dish to enjoy at home.
If huevos rancheros is on a brunch menu, there's a really good chance I'm ordering it. But I've yet to master a homemade version. Until now, that is. This version has it all, and it even has a make-ahead option.
The method is a bit unorthodox, and it does take a while, but almost all of it is inactive. And the extra time is definitely worth it because the flavors of the vegetables are so beautiful and intense, and balance so well with the spiciness from the peppers. The cheese and runny eggs just put it over the top, and a big plate of these served with fresh corn tortillas is pretty much my idea of perfection. Especially when I can wash it down with a mimosa.
adapted from Cook's Country, August/September 2014
Hatch chiles are in season right now, so I used them in place of poblanos here. If you can't find them, using a poblano is more than okay. I also procured some Hatch chile cheddar, which was really great here.
- 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
- 1 Tbs packed brown sugar
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbs chile powder
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2-3 Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 1 poblano pepper)
- 1 cup shredded Hatch chile cheddar (or Pepperjack cheese)
- 8 large eggs
- 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and drain the tomatoes, pressing with a rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and reserve 1 3/4 cups of the tomato juice, discarding the rest. Whisk in the sugar and lime juice and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the onion, olive oil, chile powder, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread the mixture into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees.
Transfer the roasted tomato mixture to a 9x13 inch baking dish, and stir in the tomato juice mixture and hatch chiles. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese, then use the back of a ladle to form 8 small "wells"in the tomato mixture.*
Carefully crack an egg into each well, then sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.
Bake until the whites are just beginning to set but still have some movement, 13 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and cover with foil. Let the eggs sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle cilantro over the top, and serve.
*If you are making this ahead, at this point cover the baking dish and refrigerate until you're ready to cook and serve. If you're traveling with this to a tailgate, I would prepare it up to this step in a grill-safe aluminum foil pan, then cook the eggs on the grill as you would in the oven.