Huevos Rancheros Recipe
Traditionally, huevos rancheros (ranch or country style eggs) are made with fried eggs, sometimes served on fried tortillas. Its delicious, but that’s a lot of extra calories from fat, and if you’re not the best at making sunny side eggs, it can be problematic. Using my method, you poach your eggs directly in the salsa and serve them on steamed tortillas (or Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips). Making your Mexican salsa and eggs by pressure cooking them gives you consistently cooked eggs every time, there’s little or no added fat, and pressure cookers do fabulous things for the flavor of tomatoes and chile peppers. Even better, there’s almost no prep time, you don’t have to stand at the stove while your eggs cook, and the pressure cooker does almost all the work for you. Takes about half an hour, start to finish.
My pressure cooker breakfast recipes are quite popular, so I thought I would bring you another one, especially since many pressure cooking cookbooks tend to ignore breakfast. Here is my take on Huevos Rancheros (Mexican eggs and salsa), which I developed for our Father’s Day Brunch this year, for my Mexican food loving dad. Whereas traditional huevos rancheros involve fried eggs served with salsa topped tortillas (sometimes the tortillas are fried as well), these eggs are essentially poached in the salsa, and their texture is more like hardboiled than fried eggs. For those who have seen my Pressure Cooker Hard Boiled Eggs Recipe, you may think the time cooked under pressure is a typographical error. Its not. Let me explain.
Pot in Pot Cooking. What we are doing here is “pot in pot” cooking. If you cooked the eggs and salsa directly in the bottom of the pressure cooker, because of the relatively small volume of food and the direct heat involved, you’d risk overcooking them, and very quickly turning your eggs into inedible rubber. Maybe sometime I can figure out a way to do it when making eggs for a large number of people (and therefore a greater amount of food), but for now, this is a much safer, much more forgiving method. By placing the eggs and salsa in an oven safe container such as a ramekin, covering the container with aluminum foil, and then elevating the container above the water level, to a certain extent you are “insulating” your eggs from the temperature extremes of the pressure cooker. They will cook more slowly, but more gently. Its like a bain marie for the pressure cooker, only in reverse (you place the food outside the water). Modernist Cuisine at Home has a number of pressure cooking recipes that employ a similar technique using canning jars inside the pressure cooker, and both Cooking Under Pressure and Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes have recipes using covered ramekins inside the pressure cooker.
Choice of Eggs and Adjusting Cooking Times. You can use fresh eggs for this dish, you can use eggs that have been frozen (as long as the shell didn’t crack during freezing) or you can use pasteurized egg product that comes in a carton. If you like scrambled eggs better than poached eggs, you can absolutely whisk them before cooking. As for cooking times, this recipe was developed at about 1,000 feet above sea level using my Cuisinart Pressure Cooker, and intended to produce eggs that are roughly the consistency of hard boiled eggs. If you like a softer set on your eggs, you may want to reduce the pressure cooking time by a minute this time, see how you like them, and if they’re not quite the consistency you like, reduce the cooking time by a minute the next time. Alternatively, if you live at altitude, you may need to increase the cooking time by a minute or two to get a fully cooked egg. If you accidentally undercook your eggs, depending on how undercooked they are, you can either bring them back up to pressure for a few minutes, or re-cover them with the aluminum foil, place the pressure cooker lid back on the machine, and allow the existing heat of the dish to finish cooking the eggs. The beauty of making eggs with electric pressure cookers is that your results are so incredibly consistent: once you hit the sweet spot and perfect your timing, you’ll get consistent, perfectly cooked results time after time.
Choosing the Dish to Go Inside the Pressure Cooker. For the pot you use inside the pressure cooker, you want to use a dish that is oven safe (oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe is even better) and that allows a little bit of space above the food to allow for steam and expansion. I experimented with several different kinds of dishes. At first I used a 16 Ounce Ramekin and it worked fine, although the food came out “tall” because the ramekin was tall and if I didn’t grease the sides of the ramekin well before adding the food, the eggs really tended to stick where they touched the sides. If you have a wider ramekin that will fit inside the pressure cooker, that would be even better. I also tried a regular ceramic bowl that was oven safe, and that worked, too. If your dish has a lid, you can use that instead of aluminum foil (though it may impact the cooking time) as long as its glass or ceramic. Don’t use a plastic lid inside the pressure cooker.
Side Dishes and Garnishes. Eggs are a great inexpensive meal. If you want to make huevos rancheros for dinner, you can serve them with beans and Mexican Rice. If you’d like to add further items to your eggs, after cooking them, you could add whole or refried beans, bacon bits, shredded or crumbled Mexican cheese, and garnish them with avocado, fresh cilantro and sour cream.
MONEY SAVING TIPS: Eggs. Eggs are generally cheap, but aside from checking the sales flyers, I have two suggestions to try to get an even better deal on them. If you have a Vons / Safeway / Pavilions near you, sign up for the “Just for You” program. They used to give you a package of free eggs for signing up, I don’t know if they are still doing this or not, but even if they aren’t, check your online coupons and “Just for You” deals once a week – I’ll often get special sale prices on eggs. Salsa. My Tips for Buying Salsa Verde are equally applicable to red salsas. Buy your supplies before Cinco de Mayo, or before the New Year, if you have a Food 4 Less near you, particularly if they serve a Latino / Hispanic population, sign up to receive emails of their sales circulars and keep an eye on the sale prices, if you’re a “Just for You” Member at Vons / Safeway, buy one jar, then monitor your online coupons and JFU deals for the next several weeks to see if a discounted price shows up (if it does, buy in bulk and stock up).
½ – ¾ cup of prepared salsa (mild or medium)
Tortillas or Tortilla Chips
Vegetable oil, butter or margarine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Vegetable Steamer (with removable center prong)
Clear bottomed custard cup or measuring cup
Oven Safe Ramekin or oven safe bowl
Pastry brush (optional)
Oven mitts or potholders
- Shake your prepared salsa to thoroughly mix, then measure out, and add to your ramekin or bowl. A half cup of salsa will give you a very modest amount of per egg (several tablespoons each), ¾ cup of salsa for three eggs will give you a lot more (1/4 cup each) per egg. Optional: If desired, brush a little vegetable oil, butter or margarine onto the sides of your pot above the salsa. The salsa won’t stick to your pot, but the proteins in eggs tend to be quite sticky.
- Crack your eggs, one at a time, into a clear bottomed container so you can check both the top and bottom of the eggs for problems. Discard any bad eggs. (I’m showing all three eggs at once in the picture for photographic purposes, but if you do the eggs one at a time, you won’t risk contaminating good eggs with a bad one.) If you prefer the taste of scrambled eggs versus separate egg whites and yolks, you can absolutely whisk the eggs instead (do so now).
- Pour your eggs right on top of the salsa. (I’ve included this picture to show that you can also use frozen eggs in this dish. If your egg carton got pushed back into a very cold corner of your fridge and the egg froze, as long as the shell didn’t crack, you can still use the egg. If the shell cracked, even just a small bit, discard it – that crack is a huge gaping hole for dangerous bacteria and microbes in your refrigerator to enter the egg.)
- Cover your ramekin top with aluminum foil. If your dish has a lid, as long as its not plastic, you can use the lid instead (though this may affect the cooking time). Crimp the aluminum foil around the edges to prevent the pressurized steam from entering the dish. Optional: If you wish, you can fold up two Aluminum Foil Straps / Handles to help you lift the ramekin out of the pressure cooker.
- Remove the central prong from your vegetable steamer. Add the vegetable steamer and 1 cup of cold water to the pressure cooking pot.
- Place your covered ramekin on top of the vegetable steamer and lock the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook at LOW PRESSURE (6 PSI) for 20 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE. (Those at altitude may need to add a minute or two under pressure to compensate.) While the machine is operating, prepare your tortillas by microwaving them for 30 seconds, or Pan Steam the Tortillas in a small skillet. Grate cheese, dice avocado, chop onions, and prepare any other garnishes you want while the eggs cook. You want everything ready before the timer goes off.
- Once the timer goes off, manually release the pressure (quick release) and turn off the “keep warm” function. Remove the pressure cooker lid, holding it at an angle over the pot to allow any hot water to fall back into the inner pot. Remove the foil cover and check that the eggs are fully cooked before you remove the ramekin. Any egg yolks that broke during handling (such as the frozen egg shown in a previous photo) will show up as yellow on the surface (see bottom of photo), otherwise, you should see nothing but egg white and salsa (the yolks will be hidden just below the surface). If the egg white is in any way clear, its not fully cooked. There may be a little liquid from the salsa on top – you can use a spoon to lift up the eggs to make sure they are fully cooked.
- There are two ways you can plate and serve the eggs. If you want, you can eat the eggs directly out of the ramekin, dipping your warmed tortillas (or crunchy tortilla chips) into the salsa. Be careful not to touch the sides of the ramekin until it has cooled. Alternatively, you can place your corn tortillas on a plate or in a bowl, use a large spoon to temporarily lift out the eggs, pour the hot salsa onto the tortillas, place the eggs on top, and then spoon some of the salsa over the top of the eggs. Garnish as desired. Enjoy!
UNDERCOOKED EGGS TIPS: There are a number of variables that can influence how well cooked your eggs are when the recipe cooking length has completed (your machine, pressure setting, altitude, etc). If the eggs are substantially undercooked (there is a large amount of clear egg white or the eggs are insufficiently firm), recover the ramekin with foil, add a little more water to the pressure cooker and cook the eggs under pressure for a few additional minutes. If the eggs are only slightly less done than you prefer, put the aluminum foil back over them, lock the pressure cooker lid back in place, and allow the residual steam and heat inside the pressure cooker to slowly finish cooking the eggs. Mark your recipe printout to increase the cooking time 1 or 2 minutes next time.
OVERCOOKED EGGS TIPS: Conversely, its also possible for the eggs to be overcooked – the whites become rubbery and the yolks powdery dry. (There are certain variables, such as your individual electric pressure cooker’s performance, that no recipe can account for.) The best way to avoid this is to release pressure immediately after the timer goes off, and serve the eggs immediately. Also, remember that just like a roast, the eggs are hot, and will continue to cook even after being removed from the pressure cooker. Keeping them covered by the foil or inside the hot ramekin will retain even more heat, continuing to cook them, so plate them as quickly as possible. If you know there’s going to be a delay between cooking the eggs and service, and you can’t change when you start pressure cooking the eggs, reduce the cooking time by a few minutes, turn off the unit promptly, and allow the residual heat to finish cooking the eggs gently. If you do all this and the eggs are more well cooked than you like, make a note on your printout of the recipe to reduce the cooking length by a minute or two next time.
I’d love to know how folks at different elevations or who prefer different egg textures (a runnier yellow, for example) adjust this recipe for their own tastes. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a comment letting me know how you adjusted the recipe to accommodate your own machine, your altitude, and your personal preferences. Thanks so much!
- ½ - ¾ cup of prepared salsa (mild or medium)
- 3 eggs
- Tortillas or Tortilla Chips
- Vegetable oil, butter or margarine (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the salsa, and then measure into the ramekin. A half cup will give you a few tablespoons per egg (a modest amount), three quarters cup will obviously give you a lot more salsa per egg. Optional: Add a small amount of butter, margarine or oil around the sides of the ramekin above the salsa line to help keep the eggs from sticking.
- Crack each egg into a clear container, check it for problems, then add on top of the salsa. Don't add eggs directly to the salsa, or combine the eggs all together until you've checked that each egg looks good, lest you spoil the whole batch with one bad egg. Optional: you can whisk and scramble the eggs, if you prefer.
- Add the eggs right on top of the salsa.
- Cover the ramekin with aluminum foil, pinching the edges around the rim to make sure the heated water from the pressure cooker doesn't get inside the ramekin. Optional: You can also make two Foil Straps / Handles to help you remove the ramekin after pressure cooking.
- Remove the center prong from your vegetable steamer. Add a cup of cold water and the steamer to your pressure cooker insert.
- Place the covered ramekin on top of the vegetable steamer. Lock the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook at LOW PRESSURE (6 PSI) for 20 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE. (Those living at 3,000 feet and above may need to add a minute or two under pressure to compensate.) While the pressure cooker is operating, prepare your tortillas and garnishes. You want everything ready and assembled when the timer goes off.
- When the timer goes off, turn off the "keep warm" function, and quick release pressure. Remove the lid, holding it at an angle over the insert to allow hot water to drop back inside, set aside. Before removing the ramekin, remove the foil cover and check the eggs for doneness. See my tips above for Undercooked Eggs and Overcooked Eggs if the eggs aren't cooked to your desired texture.
- Serve the eggs directly in the ramekin (though be careful not to touch it until it has cooled down), dipping your warm tortillas or tortilla chips into the eggs. Or place your warm tortillas on a plate, remove the eggs with a large spoon, pour the salsa on top of the tortillas, place the eggs on top, then spoon a little of the salsa over the top of the eggs. Garnish as desired.