“I thought eggs were going to be greasy and slimy, but it tastes like cheese sauce. Yum.” Julie Powell, “Julie and Julia”
(Becky, the Mama.)
The short list of foods my husband Greg can cook are: hamburger patties, grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes. So it may come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that Greg is the one who taught me to poach a perfect egg. His mother taught him as boy, and he taught me as a newlywed, and I have to say that when I cooked one correctly: whites firm, yolk thick but still with plenty of liquid gold, it was something of a revelation.
I’ve never been a fan of eggs. And I have no clue why poaching an egg in boiling water, rather than scrambling, boiling or frying (without benefit of bacon fat or butter!) transforms the lowly egg into something exquisite, but it does. To Julie Powell it tasted like cheese sauce; to me, with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, a poached egg tastes like melted butter.
Last week I had a little left-over homemade green pork chili, along with some left-over homemade refried beans, and decided to make Huevos Rancheros. It was so good, hitting all the right flavor notes, I proceeded to have it every day for breakfast and lunch for the next three days. There was just something comforting and delicious about the combination of the flavors of warm corn, earthy beans and tangy green chilis topped with one perfect, buttery poached egg. Where had this dish been all my life? And why had I not made it before?
Green Chili Huevos Rancheros
Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are!
2 large eggs
2 t. vinegar
Sea salt & pepper
Water – to fill about 2 inches depth in a small skillet
2 corn tortillas
½ cup refried beans, warmed
½ cup *pork green chili, warmed. Or if you prefer, any kind of salsa you like
Optional: garnish with slice of fresh jalepano
Fill a small skillet 2/3 full with hot water. Add 2 t. white vinegar. Bring to boil. Carefully crack at egg into a small heat-proof bowl. Slip it carefully into the boiling water. Repeat with other egg.
Some of the white will float away, like foamy clouds. That’s okay. You can capture them later with a slotted spoon and eat them or ignore then and toss them away with the “bath water.” Cook about a minute, but this is not an exact time. (I like to cover the pan with a lid for a few seconds to insure a film forms over the yolks.)
When you see the whites are firm and yolk is still soft and gooey, remove carefully with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple of folded paper towels. Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and pepper while still hot.
Wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave about 15 seconds until they are hot and soft. Immediately put them on a plate and put ¼ cup warm refried beans on each tortilla and spread just to edges. Next, carefully set a poached egg on top. Finally ladle all with ½ cup of warm green pork chili or salsa. Garnish with slice of fresh jalepano if desired.
*You can find green chili of all varieties in the Hispanic food aisle of most grocery stores. I made my own quick green pork chili by blending 1 cup chicken broth with ¼ cup mild canned green chilis and 1 clove garlic in a blender. Then I mixed 1 1/2 T. flour with 1 T. olive oil and 2 t. butter until it made a smooth paste in a hot skillet. Then I slowly added the contents of the blender plus another cup chicken broth and ¼ cup more green chilis – whisking all the while until it was a desired thickness. (You can add more broth if needed. It should be the consistency of a good stew broth.) Finally I added about 2/3 cup of cubed leftover pork loin, a pinch of sugar (to balance tang of green chilis), then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. You can use veggie or miso broth and omit the pork and make this a filling and delicious vegetarian meal.