This dish is about 90% homemade. I didn’t lay the eggs or grow the vegetables or make the butter (although I could have using Crunchy Chicken’s instructions) or broth. But I did everything else by myself. And just to be clear, the reason for including these weekly recipes is not because I’m a great cook, as some other bloggers truly are, but to show that if a novice like me can cook from scratch with minimal plastic, then anyone else with the desire can do it too.
So, this meal is actually 3 different recipes combined: ranchero sauce, refried black beans, and whole wheat tortillas. Oh, and the fried eggs, but you can probably figure that part out for yourself. (Can you?)
(modified from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on Food Network.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onions
- A bunch of chili powder and dried cayenne pepper (this is the main deviation from the original recipe, which calls for bell and jalapeno peppers. I searched but couldn’t find any peppers that didn’t come from Mexico, even at my farmer’s market, and I’m really trying eat as locally as possible. Food from at least within California. So I skipped the fresh peppers on this one.)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes and their juice (organic California tomatoes)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 cup broth (water & 1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon which I’m still using up)
- 4 whole wheat tortillas (recipe below)
- 2 cups warm refried beans (recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 large eggs
First, prepare the black beans because this step is the most time-consuming. See recipe below. When the beans are ready, you can move on to the rest of the ingredients.
To make the Ranchero Sauce, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, salt, cayenne, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes (but I left it on the stove much longer. I like my onions to be completely cooked.) Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and cover to keep warm.
Prepare the tortillas. See recipe below. Keep them warm under a towel.
In a skillet, melt the butter and fry the eggs.
Place 1 warm tortilla on each of 4 plates and spread each with 1/2 cup of warm refried beans. Place 2 eggs on top of each tortilla and top with the warm Ranchero Sauce. Serve immediately.
Refried Black Beans
(modified from this FatFree.com recipe)
- 2 C black beans, uncooked
- 1 T cumin
- 1/2 C onion, chopped
- 1 T chili powder
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 qts. water
- 1 T grapeseed oil
Soak the beans over night.
Drain beans and combine all ingredients in a big stock pot. Cook until very tender, at least 2 hours. (A crock pot would be good for this. I don’t have one.) Open lid and let reduce liquid a bit so that the beans aren’t too “soupy.” (Here are some tips for cooking black beans.)
Mash beans with a potato masher and then fry them in skillet with oil. I like to leave them a little chunky.
Whole Wheat Tortillas
(modified from this RecipeZaar recipe.)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. baking powder
- 4 T. grapeseed oil
- 2/3 cup water
1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Stir in the oil and water all at once, using mixer or a fork, and toss quickly.
3. When dough can be gathered into a soft mass, turn onto floured surface and knead a few times.
4. Form 8 balls of dough, dredge in flour, and store. I put them in a bowl covered with a dampened towel to keep them from drying out. You can cook them as needed.
5. Flatten first ball of dough into a disk.
6. Roll out dough on floured surface until 7 inches or larger with even strokes that do not reach to the edge, turning over frequently.
7. Place tortilla in ungreased, frying pan that has been preheated to medium-high heat.
8. Cook 30-40 seconds on one side, turn over with spatula and cook 30-40 seconds on other side., First side should be pale and sprinkled with brown spots and the other side will be blotched.
9. Repeat process with other balls of dough.
10. Stack tortillas on a plate as they are cooked and cover them with a dish towel, which will keep them soft.
I couldn’t believe the utter deliciousness of this dish after cooking all day and finally assembling all the components. Of course, most people would not spend all day on one dish like this. But you can make each of the recipes (beans, sauce, tortillas) in larger batches and use them in other meals. I currently have a bowl of dough balls in my refrigerator for making tortillas whenever I want them. The tortillas, by the way, were much more successful than the pitas, which I’ve yet to master.
Notes on Ingredients Packaging:
1) All produce (tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime) purchased “naked” without plastic bags.
2) Spices (cayenne, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves) in containers that I refill from bulk jars at Whole Foods.
3) Dry goods (beans, flour) purchased from bulk bins in my own container. Zero packaging. Baking powder in can with plastic lid. When it’s finally used up, I’ll switch to buying from bulk bin. Salt in cardboard box, but I’ll also be switching to bulk when it’s used up.
4) Olive oil in glass bottle with metal lid. Grapeseed oil in metal can with plastic cap. Better Than Bouillon in glass jar with metal lid. Using it up and then switching to less-packaging alternative.
5) Eggs in cardboard carton. Returnable at farmer’s market.
6) Butter in wax paper. (Still haven’t found out if it’s really wax or plastic.)
Have a nice weekend. Check back later this weekend if you feel like it because Michael has some exciting news to report.