Say you and I are one big dopey family on Family Feud. Steve Harvey wants to know the top six things Americans have for brunch. Eggs Benedict takes the top spot, and right behind it is its Mexican cousin, huevos rancheros. Known on xenophobic menus as rancher’s eggs, this classico del campo is ubiquitous at desalmuerzos all over the US, and rightfully so. The OG version consists of warm corn tortillas for sopping up crisp-bottomed sunny eggs, a bright and spicy salsa for booting your hangover, and maybe some slow-cooked beans and seasoned rice to fill the belly. When these components are prepared with care, using ranch-fresh ingredients, huevos rancheros becomes a world-class dish.
In the States, though, you are just as likely to find the eggs scrambled (which defeats the purpose of having the tortillas for yolk soppage) and the corn tortillas made from wheat (adios, sabor). There is also a large number of gabachos who don’t think brunch is brunch without meat. Instead of adding chorizo or longaniza, I’ve seen huevos rancheros with everything from soy bacon to Jimmy Deen’s. In its voyage north, huevos has become so bastardized it should join the Night’s Watch. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I like to celebrate authenticity and tradition as much as I do reinterpretation and progress. That is what’s great about America—we don’t have to get a state-approved haircut or eat a patriot’s brunch if we don’t want to. We can call call a urinal a water fountain, and even more brazenly, call it art. And so it is in this spirit that I offer Potsticker Huevos Rancheros, a super-bastardized but damned delicious dish.
First comes a high-hatted and super-fresh pico de gallo, with a judicious amount of heat. Then you make the best refried beans of your life, cooking them in chorizo grease until they become the tuba to the pico’s mariachi trumpets. You will wantonly abandon tortillas and use wonton wrappers to make tiny bombs of chorizo and cheese. The potstickerization of the chorizo and cheese allows you to freeze and portion out the goods for brunches to come.
To cap it off, a little pelo del perro in the form of a pico-back, which, to my knowledge, was invented at a place called Chilo’s in Brooklyn. It’s a shot of tequila with a chaser of pico de gallo liquid. There’s something magical in this one-two punch. The pico chaser wipes your taste-memory clean of the tequila like that gizmo Will Smith and TLJ use in Men in Black. Consume more than one at your own risk.
Potsticker Huevos Rancheros with Pico-Backs
For the Pico:
STEP 1 Put some gloves on, or don’t complain when you rub your eye and it burns. Slice off the tops of the Serrano peppers. Slice them lengthwise. Starting at the narrow end, use your knife to flatten them while cutting out the membrane and seeds. Repeat this process with jalapeño. Cut the serrano peppers into long thin strips by dragging your knife through them, skin side up. Do this with the jalapeño as well.
STEP 2 Line up all of the serrano strips and slice them perpendicularly into tiny bits. Place half of the serrano bits into a storage container and set the other half aside. Repeat this process with the jalapeño, but place all of the jalapeño bits into the storage container.
STEP 3 Cut the tomatoes into quarters by cutting them in half, rotating and cutting them again, and finally cutting perpendicularly to the first two cuts. Add these to the storage container with the peppers.
STEP 4 Cut off the top of the shallot (the pointy part). Cut it in half from top to bottom. Lay the flat side of the shallot on your board and carefully cut the shallots horizontally down the middle, parallel to your board. Now, make nice, even, vertical cuts in the shallots. Finally, slice perpendicularly to make a fine mince. Discard the root end of the shallots. Add these to the storage container with the tomatoes and peppers. Repeat this process as best you can with the garlic, but put half of the garlic aside with the other Serrano. Put the rest in the storage container.
STEP 5 Use the rasp to zest one of the limes, and add this to the storage container with the tomatoes, peppers, and shallot.
STEP 6 Roll the limes on your board to extract a little extra juice, then cut them in half and ream them using whatever you got into the storage container.
STEP 7 Add some finely chopped cilantro if you are into it, then the salt, and toss to coat. I make this directly into a deli container, put the lid on it, and shake the hell out of it. Keep this in the fridge until you are ready to make the dish. The flavor only gets better in my opinion. Congrats on making pico de gallo. You are muy autentico.
For the Filling:
STEP 1 Squeeze the chorizo out of its casing and into the pan. Over medium-low heat, cook the chorizo for about 12 to 14 minutes, while using the slotted spoon to mash up any chunks.
STEP 2 Put your cheese into a mixing bowl. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to the mixing bowl, trying to leave as much of the chorizo grease behind as can be done.
STEP 3 Toss the cheese and the chorizo together. Set this aside until you are ready to make the potstickers.
For the Refried Beans:
STEP 1 To the chorizo grease, add the reserved Serrano and garlic. Over medium low heat, cook for 1 or 2 minutes until sizzling. Then add the black beans, canning liquid and all. Trust me.
STEP 2 Use the slotted spoon to mash up about two-thirds of the beans and cook until thickened, 8-10 minutes.
STEP 3 Transfer these to a storage container to cool, and then place in the fridge until you are ready to make the dish.
For the Potstickers
STEP 1 Place heaping teaspoons of the chorizo-cheese mix into the center of the wrappers. Use your finger to lightly wipe a little water around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and press down gently. Wet the outside edge again and fold the edges over themselves 4-5 times. This makes for a real cute dumpling. Repeat.
STEP 2 Set these aside on a sheet tray or plate until you’ve exhausted your supplies. This makes about 28 dumplings if you don’t mess up. Place these in the freezer until frozen, then transfer them to a zipper-top bag to keep until you are ready to make the dish.
To Make the Dish
STEP 1 Over medium high heat, melt the butter until it’s bubbling. Add the dumplings in a ring and cook for about 5 minutes.
STEP 2 Crack the eggs in to the center of the ring, being careful not to break the yolk. Add two spoonfuls of the beans into the whites between the yolks. When the whites are starting to set, proceed to the next step.
STEP 3 From here you can channel your inner me and flambé this bad boy. If that scares you proceed to the next step. Have the lid within reach. In your dominant hand hold the grill lighter and in your non-dominant hand the tequila. Carefully pour in the tequila, stand back, and ignite the sputtering fumes. This will create a fire in the pan. Let it go for about 15-20 seconds, or until you are skeered and then put the lid on it to extinguish. (If you chose not to flambé, put the lid on the pan and cook until the yolks are as you would like them.)
STEP 4 Remove the pan from the heat, and set on a heat-proof surface. Top with the pico, some scallions if you got them and some sour cream if you dig it. Use a spatula to serve or be like me and just eat it out of the pan while standing in your onesie, impressed with yourself.
STEP 5 Toast to your accomplishments by doing a pico-back: Drain off a shot of the pico liquid and use it as a chaser to a shot of tequila.
For the pico:
2 serrano peppers
1 jalapeño pepper
14 ounces grape tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 ½ teaspoons salt
For the filling:
14 ounces Mexican chorizo
1 cup shredded cheese
For the beans:
1 can black beans (15½ ounces)
For the wrapper
30 round wonton/potsticker wrappers (I like the green ones!)
For the rest:
2 tablespoons butter
Eggs (at least 2)
3 shots of tequila (optional, but very cool)
Sliced scallions (optional, but pretty)
Sour cream (optional, but delicious)
Knife and cutting board
Rasp grater or zester
Heavy frying pan (I use a cast iron) with a lid
Storage containers (I use quart-sized deli containers)
Sheet tray or plate
Grill lighter (optional, but part of the cool thing with the tequila)
Shot glasses (optional, but part of the cool thing with the tequila)