do you remember space camp? even if you didn’t go to the official super-fancy nasa-sponsored space camp, you probably took some summer school course about space or something as a kid. and if you didn’t do either of those, chances are you probably wanted to and felt super dejected when you friends told you all of their awesome space camp stories.
in any case, being an astronaut is one of those jobs that mesmerized me when i was just a pup. of course, i was more into the idea of becoming the president or a fighter pilot or a scientist. but if a random member of nasa came up to me when i was a six-year-old and told me i was accepted to the official astronaut training program, you bet your butt i would have gone without thinking twice. space is huge and amazing and full of possibilities for six-year-olds, especially when the farthest away you have ever gone in your life is the public pool.
anyway, i’m pretty sure that six-year-olds think about becoming an astronaut like chickens think about becoming huevos rancheros.
like six-year-olds and space, most chickens probably have only a vague knowledge of mexican food. never in their wildest dreams would they have considered that they would become a delicious breakfast fit for a latin american farmer. i like to think that if i were a chicken and i was given a choice, i would go for the rancheros sauce without thinking twice. sure, i could hold out for a while and hope to become sous-vide or chicken cordon bleu, but more often than not i would end up something highly processed and much less tasty (like kfc, chicken nuggets, or instant ramen flavor packets).
well, i suppose that is enough strange asides for now. it’s recipe time.
- a can of tomatoes
- two cloves of garlic
- a fresh tomato
- one white onion
- half a red onion
- one orange bell pepper
- coriander (or fresh cilantro)
- tomato paste
- chili powder
- dried habenero (powder is ok)
- mexican sausage
arroz rojo (mexican rice)
- add some rice to the bowl of a rice cooker. i tend to use one cup at a time. i can’t get my hands on any kind of rice other than japanese sticky rice, so i like to wash it two or three times until the water stops turning cloudy white. when it gets to this point, there is much less risk of it sticking together and burning. if made appropriately, arroz rojo normally uses long grain rice.
- add enough to chicken stock to cover the rice. mix in two or three spoons of tomato paste, two splashes of oil, and a liberal dose of cumin, chili powder, and coriander (or fresh cilantro). add salt and pepper to taste, and then stir well.
- whip out your cutting board and a nice sharp knife. take the seeds out of the orange bell pepper and cut the top off of your tomato. chop both into rough cubes. slide them off the cutting board and onto the rice, doing to best to retain the juices.
- last, roughly mince the white onion and add it to the bowl.
- start up your rice cooker, and check on occasion (if you can, some rice cookers don’t allow you to open the lid while cooking is still going on) to make sure nothing is burning or going terribly wrong.
- once finished, use a rice paddle of a fork to fluff the rice and make sure all the spices and vegetables you added are evenly distributed.
- mince the red onion and add it to a frying pan or small pot with a little bit of oil. fire up the stove and saute the onion until it is good and soft.
- when they are ready, add in your can of tomatoes.
- a true rancheros sauce uses minced green chilis, but i live in japan, so that was basically impossible for me. instead, i used a mixture of dried habenero, conventional chili powder, some black pepper, cumin, and coriander. on occasion, i am known to accidentally add a little bit of sugar to cut the saltiness of canned tomatoes (which is a reflex from making italian style tomato sauce more times than i can count). it certainly doesn’t hurt the flavor at all.
- stir the mixture and bring it to a boil. when it gets there, cover it with a lid and bring the heat as low as you possibly can. let the sauce simmer while you cook the rest of the meal. watch the water level to make sure it doesn’t burn, but generally the longer you let it simmer the more delicious the flavors will be.
- chop some fresh veggies. i tend to prefer a little bit of red bell pepper and red onion, but avocado is an excellent alternative.
- fry your sausages. the sausages pictured above deserve their own post (and will most likely get one in the near future), but for now i would to use any sausages that fit with the rest of the meal. chorizo is an excellent choice, as is any blood sausage. try to avoid sausages with italian seasoning or your taste buds will end up confused.
- last, cook up your eggs in the remaining sausage grease. i prefer my eggs sunny side up and over easy, but it depends on the person. just remember, runny yolks make a rich addition to the already delicious ranchero sauce.
- while your eggs are cooking, spoon about half a plate worth of arroz rojo onto your plate. set the fresh sliced veggies alongside the rice. once your sausages are cool enough to touch, cut them into bite-sized pieces and place them alongside the rice as well.
- slide the eggs onto the empty portion of the plate using a spatula. last, use a ladle to pour a generous amount of ranchero sauce over the top of the eggs. if you hit the rice, don’t worry. chances are they would have mixed somewhere in the course of the meal anyway.
- thank your local chickens for their sacrifice and dig in.