If this is a book of simple “foundation” recipes from the Mexican kitchen, this preparation is part of the bedrock on which that foundation is laid. No doubt all of you, at one time or another, have enjoyed a big forkful of scrambled eggs shot through with Mexican spirit—that is, with tomatoes, chiles, onions and cilantro. If those eggs were rolled into warm corn tortillas, I’ll bet the experience seared itself into your brain. You can find eggs like this everywhere in Mexico, from simple market stalls to the trendy dining room at the W Hotel in Mexico City’s chic Polanco section (where the chef adds roasted cactus to the mix). They are always served with warm tortillas for making tacos or simply eating alongside; I always want a spoonful of fried black beans to make the meal complete.
- Yield: Serves 4
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed, seeded, if you wish, and each cut into 3 or 4 pieces
- 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, fresh pork lard or bacon or chorizo drippings
- 1 pound (2 medium-large round or 5 to 7 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 8 eggs
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (optional)
- 12 warm corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
- About 3/4 cup roasted tomatillo salsa, or bottled salsa or hot sauce, for serving
- With a food processor or blender running, drop in the garlic and chiles one piece at a time, letting each piece get finely chopped before adding the next. Stop the food processor (or blender) and add the onion, then pulse until most of the onion pieces are no longer than 1/4 inch.
- Heat the oil (or its alternative) in a very large (12-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring regularly, until starting to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the tomato liquid evaporates and the oil separates out again, about 4 minutes.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, crack the eggs into a bowl and add 1 teaspoon salt. With a fork, beat the eggs just enough to roughly blend the whites and yolks.
- Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook—slowly stirring and scraping up the cooked eggs from the bottom of the skillet—until the eggs are done as you like. Scoop into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro and optional avocado. Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa or hot sauce for making soft tacos.
Riffs on Huevos a la Mexicana: You probably know that the classic preparation for these eggs starts with browning hand-chopped onions and tomatoes with minced chiles and garlic, but that requires both time (or very proficient knife skills) and really great summer tomatoes. I devised this simpler, year-round version for quick home suppers. Sometimes I add crisp-cooked bacon or chopped cooked shrimp to the skillet with the eggs. Or I’ll fry chorizo in the skillet, then scoop it out with a slotted spoon and make the dish using the renderings; I add the chorizo back to the skillet with the eggs.