…continued from the previous post (before these mates become separated). This by no means relegates these luscious, humble beans to a side for huevos rancheros. Please don’t pity these promiscuous souls, though. They are far from chaste or monogamous—sharing the plate and forming the base for so many dishes. Frijoles refritos get around for good reason.

Refried beans should be kept warm by spooning them into a bowl seated in a pan of hot water over low heat. If they become a touch dry, stir in a little broth.

FRIJOLES REFRITOS (REFRIED BEANS)

2 1/2 C dried pinto or pink beans
1 T bacon drippings or pork lard
1 T vegetable or canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 qts water

1-2 t sea salt

On a baking pan, sort through the beans, removing any stones or debris. Slide the beans into a colander and rinse.

Then, pour the cleansed beans into a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add water and remove any beans that float. Add the drippings or lard, vegetable or canola oil, onion, and bay leaf then bring to a rolling boil, promptly reducing the heat to keep the liquid at a very gentle simmer. Cover with the top just slightly ajar and simmer, adding water as needed to keep the liquid level roughly the same, until the beans are thoroughly tender, about 2 hours.

Stir in the salt and simmer for about 15 minutes longer to allow for absorbtion, then taste and adjust. Remove and discard the bay leaf. The beans may then be mashed and cooked for frijoles refritos.

2 T bacon drippings
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 t cumin seeds, roasted and then ground

4 C undrained, cooked beans (see above), slightly warm

Sea salt, to taste
1/2 C queso fresco or queso anejo, crumbled

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until nicely golden, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cumin, cook for a minute or so, then spoon in about 1/4 of the beans, leaving the bean broth behind for later. Mash the beans into a coarse purée.

Add another large spoonful of beans, mash again, and continue until all the beans have been added and coarsely mashed. They should not be smoothly puréed—rather more textured like smashed potatoes.

Add a cup or so of the bean broth and stir over heat until the beans are still a little soupy as they will thicken while resting. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

Sprinkle with the crumbled queso fresco or queso anejo.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
~C.S. Lewis

That ever perplexing riddle: which came first, the chicken or the egg? British researchers claim to have resolved this mystery. Apparently, a protein found only in a chicken’s ovaries is necessary for the formation of the egg. This same protein (ovocledidin-17) enhances the development of the hard shell, which is essential to protecting the delicate yolk and fluids while the chick grows inside the egg. The protein works by converting calcium carbonate into the calcite crystals that make up the egg shell. In a paper entitled Structural Control of Crystal Nuclei by an Eggshell Protein, a team of scientists from universities in Sheffield and Warwick claim to have answered this age-old question. While it had long been suspected that the egg came first, the chicken preceded the egg.

One of a slew of Mexican egg dishes, robust huevos rancheros (rancher’s eggs) are thought legendary in some parts. Fried eggs nestled on soft tortillas then drizzled with two sauces are an egg slut’s manna. The red and green sauces juxtaposed with the yellow yolks make for a deliciously hued plate.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS WITH TOMATO & TOMATILLO SAUCES

Tomato Sauce (Salsa de Jitomate)

3 medium to large tomatoes, parboiled, peeled, seeded, and cored
3 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 fresh, plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 T vegetable oil
Pince of sea salt

Place the tomatoes in blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the chiles, onion and garlic to the mix. Stir to mix evenly, then process in bursts until roughly pureed.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high until just shimmering. Add the mixture from the blender and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes thicker, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the stove.

Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa Verde)

1 lb fresh tomatillos (10-12 medium), husked and rinsed
3 jalepeño chiles, stemmed and seeded
Sea salt

2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 sprigs of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 T vegetable oil
Sea salt

Boil the tomatillos and chiles in salted water in a covered pot until tender and softened, about 10-15 minutes. Drain.

Transfer the tomatillo/chile mix, garlic, onion and cilantro into a blender or food processor fitted with a steel knife, and blend in pulses until it reaches a coarse purée.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high until simmering. Pour in the purée and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes thicker, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, allow it to reach a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.

Eggs and Assembly

Salsa de Jitomate and Salsa Verde, warmed

4 medium corn tortillas
1/4 C+ vegetable oil
8 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Queso fresco and/or queso anejo cheese, crumbled
Cilantro leaves, chopped

Frijoles refritos (refried beans)
Freshly sliced avocados

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high. When quite hot, saute the tortillas one at a time 2-3 seconds per side, just to soften them. Drain on paper towels, wrap in foil and keep warm in a low oven.

Heat a heavy, non-stick skillet coated well with vegetable oil to medium to medium low. Crack 4 eggs into the skillet and let them cook, slowly, sunnyside up. If necessary, cover the skillet to allow for more uniform cooking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then transfer the eggs to a baking sheet, keeping them warm with the tortillas. Cook the remaining eggs in the same fashion.

Set a tortilla on each of 4 plates. Top with 2 fried eggs then carefully (even artfully) spoon the two sauces in even amounts over the tortillas and egg whites, leaving the yolks exposed. Garnish with crumbled cheese(s) and cilantro.

Serve with frijoles refritos (refried beans) and fresh avocado slices next door.