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A Hearty Breakfast for Your Inner Mexican

Let’s face it,  we all wish we were Mexican. Cinco de Mayo, margaritas, Caesar salad, Salma Hayek and, dare I say it Chihuahuas, are all a part of American culture. What would life be like without miniature, hairless dogs stuffed into purse-carriers and sweaters to keep them safe and warm?? And no Salma? That is a life I do not want to contemplate (husband has stolen keyboard).

In our household of American mutts (no, we don’t own Chihuahuas, I’m talking about me and my husband), the quarter that is Mexican has the odds on breakfast, because, really, we’re both hard-pressed to find a better breakfast coming from any other part of the world (feel free to comment on that one, I want to hear it!). Whenever I visit my in-laws in the States or in Mexico City, I feel especially spoiled at breakfast, which typically consists of some sort of savory eggs, warm tortillas, fresh papaya or other fruit with a squeeze of lime, juice and coffee with milk.

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There are lots of more time-consuming savory egg dishes to make (my favorite being huevos ahogados), but when I wake up on a Saturday morning the cantankerous gnome that is my stomach usually has been up hours before me and is hungry. It. Must. Be. Fed.

Huevos a la Mexicana is the fastest and likely most fool-proof egg dish to make on a weekend morning when you’re bleary-eyed and impatient to get to the couch for some Saturday morning cartoons. It is great for brunch. It would also be fine for dinner. Of the hundreds of times I’ve eaten this dish, it never gets old. Maybe that’s because my husband usually makes it for me!

As our Mexican cookbook, El gran libro de la cocina Mexicana states, this dish has the characteristic flavors of Mexican cooking: the Trinity of chiles, tomatoes and onions. To get a taste of the flavor – before you really get a taste of the flavor by cooking the recipe – you may want to dial in a little background music while reading this post. Or this, depending on your taste.

We like huevos a la Mexicana served with a side of black beans and tortillas that have been toasted over a flame. Don’t forget the café con leche. Provecho!

Huevos a la Mexicana con Frijoles Negros
- 2 generous servings –

Eggs
4-5 eggs, scrambled
1 roma tomato, diced*
½ c onion, diced
½” serrano chile, minced (may vary, depending on how hot the chile is and how spicy you like your food – make sure you give the raw chile a little taste on the tip of your tongue before adding to the pan)**
2 t canola/vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil)
1T cilantro, chopped (optional)
Salt, pepper

Beans
1 14-oz can black beans, with liquid
½ c onion, diced
2 t canola/vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil)
Salt
Milk (optional)

2-4 flour tortillas

To make the eggs: Season the eggs with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan, heat the canola oil and sauté onions and chile on medium heat until the onions just start to turn a little soft. Hopefully your eyes are watering a little bit from the chile fumes. What a way to wake up in the morning! Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and add the eggs. Depending on how you like your scrambled eggs (small bits or bigger chunks), stir accordingly. We like bigger, fluffier chunks, so we don’t stir as much.

To make the beans: In sauté pan #2, heat the canola oil and sauté the onions on medium heat. When they start to turn translucent, turn up the heat and add the can of beans with the liquid (I know, a lot of sodium, but these beans aren’t as good without the salt!). Heat the beans through and then, with the back of a wooden spoon, smash about ¾ of the beans and continue to simmer until you get a nice, creamy consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed. If they get too thick, add a splash of milk (yes, milk) and stir in well.

To toast the tortillas: If you don’t have gas burners, I guess you could put the tortillas in the toaster or toast in a dry pan. If you DO have gas burners, I recommend toasting the tortillas this way: turn on the gas burner. Flop a tortilla onto the flame. Using tongs (not your fingers!), move the tortilla around until the side is browned and then flip.

* Sometimes tomatoes have too many seeds or are too watery. Since you don’t want watery eggs, you may want to remove the seeds before dicing.

** You can keep whole serrano chiles wrapped in plastic in the freezer for weeks.

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