Huevos Rancheros

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You MUST have a heuvos rancheros recipe for those mornings where you want something warm and filling, but not too challenging.  Like when you will be weighing anchor on a foggy morning, or camping up north in autumn.  This is an astoundingly good recipe, adapted from one of Emeril’s…I believe our most recent guests said “best balance of flavor in the sauce ever”**…and the sauce is good on chicken, too.  Most importantly, it comes together easily…but it also comes together at home, freezes, and heats up easily over the galley or campfire.

**(Same guests, food lovers from the south, had our Funky Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and thought they were best-in-class as well, so try them together, breakfast and lunch!)

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So do not hesitate to make this from scratch in the galley, but if you see multiple needs coming up, as we did with one weekend anchored out in the Chesapeake with guests, and the next camping in the north woods of Michigan, make the sauce and freeze it in batches.  Here are your ingredients for the sauce:

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One onion (I prefer white for breakfast), one red and one green bell pepper, one jalapeno, a couple good-sized garlic cloves, 2 cans of Rotel-style tomatoes (10 oz each, or you can use a couple of cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped), cayenne pepper, ground cumin, chicken broth, salt, and, if you’re being fancy, cilantro.  Chop the onion and peppers and arrange them like the Mexican flag, or at least close.

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Sautee the onion, garlic, jalapeno and spices (1-2 tea cumin, 1 tea salt, 1/4-1/2 tea cayenne depending on your tolerance for head-kicking flavor in the morning) until onion is soft.  Add bell pepper and sautee about 5 minutes more, then add tomatoes and a cup or so of broth; it should be pretty soupy at this point.

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Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until some liquid boils off, the vegetables are soft, you taste it, and despite severely burning your tongue you consider doing it again.  Let this cool, and you can freeze it in batches.  I froze this in halves, one of which was enough for 4 servings (shown above), the other for two VERY hearty servings (shown at the end of this post…really TOO big), so this recipe serves 6-8.

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In your galley or campsite, brew coffee to try to stay warm and alert.  This next part is easy as in forgiving, but uses multiple burners and has moving parts, so stay awake!  You will now need corn tortillas (2-3 apiece), pepper jack cheese (grated best, sliced in a pinch), and eggs (2-3 apiece), plus the sauce which has probably defrosted in transit (if not, simply sink in warm water or leave out long enough to get the ranchero ice cube out of the tupperware and into a saucepan for heating.  Do what your guests want with eggs; I prefer over-easy so that the yolk can make the sauce creamy, but my captain (and in this case, guests) can’t abide by anything but scrambled…so it is.

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Heat and brown tortillas in a greased frying pan over medium heat, melting pepper jack on top at the same time–you might invert a plate (or lid if you’re fancy) over them to get the cheese to melt before the tortillas toast.  Scramble or otherwise cook your eggs, and heat the sauce over low, stirring in a few tablespoons of fresh, chopped cilantro if you have time, when heated.

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There is definitely an art to getting this all done and together, warm.  At the campsite, I had just two burners, so I scrambled the eggs, put a lid on them in a separate bowl, then used the burners to melt cheese on tortillas and heat sauce.  Due to tortilla-pan-filling constraints, you may end up serving one person at a time like pancakes.  Ultimately, the sauce goes on top and warms everything else up, so just defer to that and you will be muy bueno.

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Make another pot of coffee to share.  Put eggs and then sauce on tortillas with cheese, and prepare to be adored by men and dogs alike.

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(And yes, camping, I threw in some leftover breakfast sausages because it was cold and we were hungry and I had them and could.)

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