"Hue-vos Ranch-eros" Mike slowly enunciates to me, his inflection indicating that I am expected to repeat the phrase back to him. But it rolls off my tongue in some strange combination of Spanish and French, thanks to six years spent learning to converse with Parisians. Mike rolls his eyes, smiling slightly as he grates the cheese and I return to stirring the quick, barely spicy tomato sauce that is the base of this breakfast dish.
Soon it is time to begin assembling and Mike works quickly behind me, arranging the tortilla chips (always blue in our house) in the perfect order after I have placed a bit of the sauce at the bottom of each cast iron gratin dishes.
Despite my inability to pronounce the name of the dish without a French dialect, Mike will soon be scraping the bottom of his dish to ensure he gets every bit of tomato and runny egg yolk scooped onto a crunchy chip.
BAKED HUEVOS RANCHEROS
Adapted from FOOD & WINE
I like baking this dish in individual cast-iron servers so each person has their own little meal. This makes the perfect amount of food for two hungry people at brunch, but it can easily be doubled to serve four. If it's late enough in the morning, Mike and I also like to mix up a little batch of margaritas to get the day started right!
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 small red bell pepper, finely diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups tortilla chips
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeños, garlic and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Spoon the sauce into 2 individual, shallow baking dishes and arrange the tortilla chips around the sides. Crack 2 eggs into each dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Set the dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny (or cook longer if you like a harder yolk). Serve right away.