Huevos Rancheros

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Huevos rancheros, or ‘rancher’s eggs’, is the original Mexican brunch: a big mid-morning meal designed to keep farm workers going. Nowadays brunch more likely means a late night requires a spicy, filling hangover cure, but don’t feel bad about it: this is still better for you than a fry up, just as satisfying and as easy to make. Equally splendid as a week-night dinner or camp-fire cook out, this is a good one for using up leftovers: the basic recipe is below (cheese is not authentic, but in my opinion non-optional), but the pictured version also contained olives, a big handful of spinach and fresh peas. Original recipes are as simple as tomato salsa and eggs in a corn tortilla, but it has evolved to commonly include beans, chilli and peppers. Sliced avocado, of course, never goes amiss.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 red, yellow or orange peppers, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tin of beans (mixed beans, cannellini, butter beans, black eyed beans etc), drained
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tortillas, corn if you’d like to be traditional or flour if you’d like to use my recipe
4 free-range and/or organic eggs
4 tablespoons grated cheddar
1 chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika if you like more of a kick
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and black pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method
In a frying pan with a lid, sweat the sliced onion in olive oil until it softens. Add the garlic, chilli, paprika and cumin and stir for a minute, then add the peppers. Put the lid back on and leave to cook until the peppers start to soften, about 10 minutes. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, the beans and tomato puree, season with salt and pepper and stir while it comes up to a simmer.

Simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken, then make four holes in the mixture and crack in the eggs. Put the lid back on, turn the heat to medium-low and leave the eggs to cook for 7 minutes – check them: you want the yolks soft but not super runny. If they’re not done put the lid back on for another few minutes.

Warm the tortillas in a microwave or a hot dry frying pan for 10 seconds so they’re pliable. Spoon a heap of mixture with an egg onto each one, sprinkle with cheese and wrap up as best you can. Eat quickly and messily (and feel much better).

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