Breakfast Beans and Eggs
I realized that, in my What I Ate Wednesday posts, I keep showing you a messy pile of cooked beans and eggs over corn tortillas – a common breakfast for me – but I’ve never really discussed cooking them.
I routinely use beans in cooking. They’re a great source of protein, there are many varieties with a wonderful range of flavors, dried beans (and, for that matter, the precooked canned beans) are shelf stable so convenient to keep on hand, and we like them. And I would rather have a non-meat – and indeed, non-animal – source of protein in our diet… We seem to do best with a combination – recipes with mostly beans and a little meat, egg, or dairy, rather than the beans alone, but that varies to a great degree by the person. I realize I have not written as many of those recipes as we actually eat – so I will work on that.
But – breakfast. Somehow when I put beans in tortillas, they feel perfectly reasonable first thing in the morning… It’s a mind game. “Beans at breakfast?” What an odd idea! A Breakfast Taco (or burrito…) What a wonderful idea! (Burritos seem to usually be made of flour tortillas – which I never did like – and more completely wrapped. It’s a package, really… so burritos are better for wrapping and making ahead, but tacos are eaten at once.)
Americans are used to picking up the tacos – indeed, I grew up with “hard shell” tacos… But when I get tacos at the Mexican bodega in my neighborhood – where most of the customers getting goat and tongue tacos at the steam table are ordering in Spanish – they generously ladle a stew over doubled soft corn tortillas with the edges just sort of vaguely turned up – and give you a knife and fork. So I know that’s an option…
I always have beans around. I try to have my own cooked beans – but I make sure I have a few cans in the pantry as a fallback… so there is always something for breakfast. I just make my own breakfast – Rich has his own preferred combination of cereal, seeds, and fruit, and fixes it himself. And I usually get up first, so put on the coffee pot, and start…
I put a cast iron pan over low heat. Then I rummage around for my beans, and whatever I’m going to use as seasoning (if anything – that is purely optional…) In this case, I had pintos I had cooked, in their cooking liquid. (I often put beans away with one container of them fully drained, and another with all the liquid, to use in different recipes.) For this recipe, I most often use pinto or kidney beans, or sometimes black beans, giving a nod to the recipe’s Southwestern/Mexican origin. There’s really no reason, though, that you can’t use white beans of some sort, or whatever else you have on hand.
When the pan was hot (which only takes a minute or two with a tiny one like this – more like five or even ten minutes with a larger one) I added a bit of olive oil. This time, I sprinkled in a little chipotle chili powder, and stirred it around. Another time, I might use chili paste, or pureed chipotle, or fresh peppers, or I might skip it altogether. If I were more energetic in the morning, I might add cumin, it would be good, but – morning… that’s not going to happen.
Then I put in a cup of beans. If there is cooking liquid, it tends to firm up in the cold of the fridge, and will liquefy in the pan. If you don’t have any – you’re using drained canned beans, for instance, or drained your cooked beans – just add water. You don’t want the beans to be dry and stick, or dry out. They are also firm cold or at room temperature, but as they heat, they start to soften… Once they have simmered, and softened for a couple of minutes, I mash them. I just use a fork, making one serving – when I make a larger pan full, I use a potato masher. I don’t want it completely smooth – I like a little texture… As you mash the beans, they absorb much of the liquid. You need a wet mixture for the next part, so add water if you need to.
Once the bean mixture is moderately smooth and well mixed, I crack in a couple of eggs, and let them cook. Now, I like my eggs cooked thoroughly, so the yolks are completely firm, so I cover the pan and cook it for five minutes. Most people prefer a softer egg… Don’t cover the pan if you want the pretty yellow yolk to show! And cook until the eggs are done to your taste.
A quick sprinkle of cheese adds flavor and protein… In fact, sometimes I use more cheese, and only one egg – or even just cheese. Again, I use cheddar, or jack, or queso de papa, or.. whatever I have on hand.
Yeah, it’s prettier if you bake the eggs. And baking would make sense if you were making a big batch for the whole family. But I’m making one serving, and I want it quickly, and I’m not fussing around with an oven in the morning… But one of these days I’ll make it for lunch, instead, and make more, and maybe I’ll bake that. Or not.
I heat three corn tortillas for 30 seconds in a microwave, and spoon the beans and eggs over them. The whole meal takes me about ten minutes to fix, during much of which I pour coffee and boot up the computer, rather than stand over a stove. My kind of morning.
Hmm… tomatoes are coming in – a bit of salsa fresca would would just be the last, perfect touch! I’ll have to work on that…
Breakfast Beans and Eggs
- olive oil for pan
- pinch chili powder or other seasoning - optional
- 1 c cooked beans in cooking liquid
- 2 eggs
- 1 T grated cheddar or jack cheese optional
- 3 corn tortillas
- Heat oil in pan. Add seasoning, stir to heat (or cook) as needed.
- Add beans, heat. If, as they heat, there isn't enough liquid to make them soupy, add water. Once they are warm, mash them gently, with a fork or potato masher, to desired texture. (I stop short of totally smooth.) Again, add water if needed, for a slightly wet soupy texture.
- Crack eggs into pan. Cook until done to your preference.
- Add cheese if you wish.
- Microwave tortillas 30 seconds. Spoon beans and eggs over tortillas to serve.