Rise & Shine: Big Joe’s Huevos Rancheros

"It’s neither fancy nor complicated, and it’s so good you’ll ask for seconds, which is exactly how Big Joe would have wanted it.”
August 16, 2016


1. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Lay the bacon slices flat in the pan. Cook until the slices are deeply browned on one side and begin to curl up, about 5 minutes. Using a fork, turn the slices over and cook the second side until browned and most of the fat is rendered, another 3 minutes or so. Transfer to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels to absorb the drippings. When cool enough to handle, cut crosswise into ½-inch-wide pieces.

2. Pour off all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, scraping up any tiny bacon bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped bacon, tomatoes with their liquid, water, chipotle, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pan. Stir well. Adjust the heat so the sauce simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and a little of the liquid cooks off, about 10 minutes. It should look like a thick, chunky sauce. If it appears too dry, add 2 tablespoons more water.

3. Add half the cilantro and stir. Crack the eggs into the sauce, spacing them evenly in the pan, and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the top. Set a lid, large pot, or piece of aluminum foil over the skillet so that it’s completely covered (I invert a wok on top of the pan). Simmer the eggs, adjusting the heat as needed, until done to your liking. For runny eggs, the whites should be cooked but the yolks still soft to the touch, about 6 to 8 minutes. Hard-cooked eggs will take an additional 2 minutes or so.

4. While the eggs are cooking, heat the tortillas in another skillet set over high heat or directly on the burner if you have a gas range, quickly warming each side. You want the tortillas warm and maybe a little blistered, but not crispy. Wrap in a napkin or dish towel to keep warm until ready to eat.

5. When the eggs are done, scatter the cheese and the remaining cilantro over the top. Serve right from the pan: spoon an egg and plenty of sauce onto a tortilla and top with avocado or sour cream, if desired. Eat like a very messy taco, or use a fork and knife.

Make Ahead: Follow the recipe just before adding the eggs (through the first addition of cilantro) and store the sauce in the fridge overnight. To prepare the dish the next day, reheat the sauce, add the eggs, and continue the recipe. You may need to add a little more water when reheating. Leftovers keep well for up to 2 days.

About this recipe

“Big Joe was my father-in-law, a man with a larger-than-life personality, which is part of what earned him that nickname. Among his many passions was cooking, and these eggs were a signature dish. Thankfully, his recipe was passed down to the next generation, which means every Christmas morning my husband pulls it out and makes up a big pan for the family—a sort of gustatory homage to his dad. It’s become my favorite meal of the holiday: soft eggs nestled in a smoky, chipotle- spiced tomato sauce under a cover of melted Cheddar. But don’t wait for a special occasion to make it. It’s neither fancy nor complicated, and it’s so good you’ll ask for seconds, which is exactly how Big Joe would have wanted it.”

From Rise and Shine by Katie Sullivan Morford, © 2016 by Katie Sullivan Morford. Photographs © 2016 by Erin Scott. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.roostbooks.com

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  • 6 bacon slices
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced into a puree (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a generous pinch, divided
  • ⅔ cup roughly chopped cilantro, divided
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 corn or small flour tortillas
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Sliced avocado or sour cream, for serving (optional)
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