Duck and scramble with huevos rancheros

It struck me earlier I don’t often blog about breakfast, which as we all know is the most important meal of the day. I’m a great fan of a hearty, lazy, savoury breakfast… something which isn’t normally possible with the bustling routine of the working day. So weekends are the time to reclaim the tradition of cooking up a proper breakfast.

Today I’m going to cover huevos rancheros (or raunchy eggs as my breakfast companion called them earlier).These ranch-style scrambled eggs have a bit of a kick to them. I’ve only made this dish once before, many moons ago, when a mate crashed over after a night on the beers, and we felt we needed something to counter the first signs of a hangover. I remembered it was delicious, but also a bit of a faff. Definitely the kind of low-intensity task best suited to lazy Sunday mornings with the brain switched to low power mode and some good tunes in the kitchen. Perfect for this morning, in fact.

There are a million and one variations of huevos rancheros out there…  but I used a version in my trusty well-thumbed ‘Practical Encyclopedia of Mexican Cooking‘ by Jane Milton, which I think sounds pretty authentic. Everything is fresh so it tastes invigorating and clean, and unlike some versions there’s no cheese in it so it’s not too unhealthy. It’s a little bit labour-intesive but I guess one could chop and change some of the ingredients to give a similar result with less effort.

How does one go about enjoying a raunchy egg striptease for breakfast anyway? Dead easy. Whilst the first coffee of the day was heating on the stovetop I impaled a couple of green chillies onto a fork, and blistered their skin over a gas flame until it was bubbled and blackened. Then they went into a strong plastic bag to steam and cool down for for a bit (I left them an hour but you can get away with much less) to loosen the skin. Once they were done they were skinned, deseeded and chopped finely.
Meanwhile I cut some corn tortillas into strips a couple of centimetres wide, and quickly fried then in very hot oil in a heavy frying pan. They fry really quickly so try to get them just as they’re darkening otherwise they’re past their prime. When done remove from the oil and drain, cooling off on some kitchen paper.

I finely chopped four scallions (spring onions) and a garlic bulb; then took a big tomato, scored a cross on it and placed it in boiling water for a few minutes. Once the skin on that had loosened I was able to peel, deseed and chop it. I decanted some of the oil out of the frying pan and heated the rest back up, ready to soften the scallions and garlic. After a few minutes I added the tomato and cooked it off for around four minutes, finally adding the chopped chilli.

I lightly beat four duck eggs in a bowl, seasoning well, then stirred the mixture quickly into the frying pan. The duck eggs provide the extra flavour and creaminess to take this to the top of the league when it comes to scrambled eggs. Careful not to let any of the eggy mixture cook through too solidly by stirring constantly, the mix was finished off with a couple of tablespoons of double cream. This allows the egg to cook more slowly, coagulating less than a scrambled egg mix. The final touch was to grab a good handful of coriander, chop it and mix it throughout the eggs. Serve on a plate, poured over the tortilla strips.

This tasted absolutely great, and with the chilli delivers quite a bit of ‘zing’ for the start of the day. Using the tortilla strips as utensils to scoop up the eggs makes for a fun eating experience which could keep kids happy (although I’d ease back on the chillies or there’d be tears!)

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