There's a current thread on the Boston board about the relative lack of huevos rancheros in town that held up the version as served at the Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque as the Platonic ideal of the dish. I pointed out that locals (which I was for many years, living only a couple blocks from the Frontier and eating there several times a week) almost always ordered them with the Frontier's signature green chile stew instead of the usual green chile. I've come up with my own adaptation of this recipe since moving to Boston about five years ago, using ingredients that can be purchased here easily enough if one knows where to look. Purchasing notes for Boston are at the bottom.
GREEN CHILE STEW:
1 lb ground pork
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil, for frying
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 to 1 cup chopped green chile, to taste
1 quart chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil to shimmering in a large saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground pork and chopped onion, breaking apart pork into small pieces. When pork is no longer pink and onions are transluscent, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so. Sprinkle with flour and stir to combine.
2. Add potatoes and 1/2 cup green chile, reserving rest of green chile to add later if necessary. Add chicken stock and stir. Bring to simmer and cook, covered, until potatoes are just tender, 20-30 minutes.
3. Add salt and pepper, then taste. If desired, add additional green chile, no more than a couple tablespoons at a time and simmering for one or two minutes after each addition before tasting. Remember that each batch of green chile is different in both flavor and heat, and it's always better to start small and go bigger, because there's not a lot you can do to tame a volcanic green chile stew. Remove from heat.
oil for frying
shredded cheese (preferably a simple longhorn colby)
green chile stew
Heat 1/4 inch of oil in skillet. For each plate of huevos rancheros, fry four corn tortillas, one at a time, in hot oil until bubbly and pliable, 15-20 seconds maximum. Remove to draining rig.
Place four corn tortillas on plate (preferably one with a bit of a lip: Fiestaware is ideal) and top with two eggs cooked in preferred style. Me, I like over easy. Top eggs and tortillas with a large ladleful of green chile stew and a handful of shredded colby. Eat, preferably with a couple of warmed flour tortilas on the side. You can add things like sour cream and guacamole if you must, but that moves away from the spirit of Huevos Rancheros and into Huevos Foofy.
The traditional sides at the Frontier are beans and western-style hash browns. For the latter, fry shredded potatoes until crisp and top with green chile and cheese. For a good approximation of the Frontier's beans, open a can of Ranch Style beans and heat on stovetop, uncovered, cooking down the sauce and mashing about a third of the beans to thicken into a paste.
PURCHASING NOTES FOR BOSTON: When I don't have friends ship me bushels of chiles from Albuquerque, which I roast out back on the Weber and then steam, strip and puree before freezing, I buy cans of Hatch green chile from Whole Foods. Sadly, they don't carry the big cans, so I have to get a lot of the little ones.
Longhorn colby cheese: best I've sourced locally is available at Russo's, in the dairy case where they keep the fresh ricotta and the like.
Ranch Style beans: it amazes me that this product, which is apparently the only thing I would deign to eat for a good chunk of my childhood according to my parents, is difficult to buy up here. Whenever we pass a Wal-Mart Supercenter (nearest ones I know of are in Salem and Epping NH), I always run in and buy a dozen cans or so. When the stock is low, I order them online from Hometown Favorites: www.hometownfavorites.com
Corn tortillas: Cinco de Mayo brand is the only way to go. Available at Russo's and elsewhere, including our neighborhood bodega, La Favorita Market near the corner of Harvard and Farrington in Allston. They also sell La Fe flour tortillas, which are lovely, and Mexican Coke with sugar, which you don't need for this recipe but it's good to know.
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