Rick Bayless’s favourite Mexican breakfast, crispy tostadas topped with black beans, roasted tomatoes, plantains and eggs
Late Sunday morning is a time I enjoy inviting friends for a meal. It’s relaxed, my work week is finished and no one is expecting a big production. That’s when these motul-style eggs really shine. They’re made from crispy tostadas topped with black beans and eggs sunny-side up, doused with a robust roasted tomato sauce flamed with habanero chillies, then the whole is strewn with ham, peas, crumbled fresh cheese and slices of sweet-fried plantain. Though it sounds like quite a mouthful, be assured that it’s a harmonious and very delicious one, full of lively flavours and rich textures that are made for a group of good eaters.
My recipe is the classic one that I put together after having eaten huevos motuleños throughout the Yucatan (you can taste almost exactly this version at El Anfitrión in Mérida, though, as in many restaurants, the beans are put below the tostada there, I surmise, to keep everything in place as it’s being carried to the table).
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If you make everything from scratch, it’ll take a little time in the kitchen. So do the sauce, plantains and beans the day before, buy good tostadas if you wish, then assemble the dish just before serving. Set out a big fruit salad and brunch is complete, unless you want a little guacamole for everyone to munch on before you sit down.
These websites might be useful: mexgrocer.co.uk and coolchile.co.uk.
Serves 6 as a hearty breakfast or supper
For 700ml essential simmered tomato-habanero sauce:
ripe tomatoes 4 large round, 14 to 17 plum
white onion 1 medium, thinly sliced
fresh habanero chillies (mexgrocer.co.uk) 1½ halved
salt a generous ¾ tsp
very ripe plantains 2
canned black beans 90-120g, coarsely mashed
good ham 175g, cut in thin strips 5mm wide by 5cm long
frozen peas 200g
Mexican queso fresco or pressed salted farmer’s cheese 60g
crisp-fried tostadas (from large supermarkets) 6
The sauce, plantains and beans may be prepared in advance. Refrigerate everything separately, covered. Warm each component (heat plantains on a baking sheet in a 180C/gas mark 4), then finish the dish, following the instructions below.
To make the sauce, roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 10cm below a very hot grill until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes; flip and roast the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting all juices with the tomatoes. In a food processor or blender, coarsely purée the tomatoes and juices.
In a medium-size pan, heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring regularly, until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli halves and simmer over a medium to low heat for 15 minutes or so, stirring often, until the sauce is beginning to thicken but still juicy looking. Taste and season with salt; remove the chilli.
Complete the basics. Peel the plantains, then cut them into diagonal slices 5mm thick. Heat 2 to 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned or non-stick skillet (you’ll need a lid) over a medium heat, and lay in the plantain slices in a single layer. (If they won’t fit comfortably, fry them in two batches). Fry for 3 or 4 minutes per side, until richly browned. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep them in a warm oven.
In a small pan, warm the beans over a low heat. Mix together the ham strips and the peas in another small pan, and warm them over a low heat or in a microwave oven. Crumble the cheese into a small bowl and set aside. Set the pan of tomato sauce over a low heat.
To finish the dish, measure 1-2 tbsp of the oil into the large skillet and set over a medium-low heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, cover and cook 1 minute. Uncover and cook until the whites are set, 1-2 minutes longer, but the yolks are still soft (if you like them that way). If they won’t fit in the pan, cook them in batches, remove from the heat and keep warm in a low oven.
Spread a portion of beans over each tostada, then set in the middle of each of six warm dinner plates. Carefully slide an egg on to each, drizzle the sauce over and around the eggs, letting it run off on to the plate around each tostada. Sprinkle each plate with the ham, peas and cheese, decorate with plantain slices and carry to the table.
TOSTADAS AND TOSTADITAS
Makes 12 tostadas or about 225g of chips
corn tortillas 12
vegetable oil to a depth of 2.5cm, if frying
salt as desired
For chips, cut the tortillas into 6 wedges; for tostadas, leave them whole.
The frying method: spread tostadas into a single layer, cover lightly with a dry towel to keep them from curling, and let dry until very leathery. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet (at least 2.5cm depth) over a medium to medium-high heat until very hot, 380C on a deep-fry thermometer. For tostadas, lay the tortillas in the oil one at a time, flip them after about 30 seconds, then fry them until they are lightly browned and crisp, about 30 seconds longer. For chips, distribute a few wedges of tortilla over the oil and stir them nearly constantly to keep them separate for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until lightly browned and crisp. Tostadas/chips are not done until nearly all bubbling has stopped. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon, shake off the excess oil and drain on paper towels. While the chips are warm, sprinkle with salt, if you like.
The oven-crisped method: turn on the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and lay out the tortillas in a single layer. Cover with a second, inverted cooling rack. Toast the tortillas in the oven until thoroughly crisp, about 12-15 minutes.