It may be hard to imagine such a thing nowadays, but when I was growing up you couldn't, nor would you ever even think to, buy tortillas at the local grocery store. That's because Mexican food simply wasn't a part of life unless you were from a Latino family, or were lucky enough to eat at their home. That's right, even in Southern California, it was that rare. We had one place you could get it, the Taco Tia, which was like an early fast-food joint with rather forgettable gringo-ized tacos, tostadas, and beans.
So cooking Mexican food at home was simply not on my mother's radar-- that is, until I was a preteen. Then Mom became more adventurous and started making one of our family's favorite Mexican dishes: ground beef with taco seasoning (Lawry's had just started packaging it), served on a bed of Fritos with a little grated cheese on top. Yes, Fritos. Now that was Mexican!
It makes me laugh just to think about it. But that was truly the closest we came in those days. Oh my, what we were missing. Fortunately, things started changing quickly after that and pretty soon some wonderful Mexican food became available at various new taco stands and restaurants in town, and lo and behold, tortillas became available at the local grocery.
Life changing, seriously. That opened up a whole new culinary world to me, and I've been cooking and eating Mexican dishes like a maniac ever since. It is one of my favorite cuisines. In fact, if I were about to be put in the electric chair, my last meal would have to be a Mexican combo plate.
One of my favorite breakfasts also has a Mexican kick to it. I discovered chilaquiles when I was in my early 20s, thanks to my brother who came up with it from who knows where. I fell in love with that dish immediately. Spicy softly scrambled eggs with tortilla pieces, all folded together and topped with cheese and salsa. How could you miss?
I have since discovered, however, that chilaquiles may not be the appropriate name for this dish. Some folks would say this dish is called migas, meaning "crumbs" in English, which comes from Spanish, Portuguese, and Tex-Mex traditions, with each version having its own unique twist. The difference between chilaquiles and migas has to do with the addition of eggs, and it turns out that chilaquiles traditionally has none. Well, whatever you call it, this is one tasty way to enjoy a lovely day off.
This week's Food Matters Project assignment was for Beans and Greens Burritos, chosen by Jacqui of Good Things Grow. I was in the mood for something with a little more mucho gusto than just a burrito-- after all, I had a luscious spring morning in which to make something more special-- so I went with what might be considered a deconstructed breakfast burrito.
For the greens I relied on Anaheim green chiles. For the beans, some spiced up black beans. A bed of those kicky beans, topped with a generous helping of the warm chilaquiles/migas/whatever you want to call them, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of salsa, a few wedges of sliced avo, accompanied by a warm buttered flour tortilla to wrap up the filling as I cleaned my plate-- just the ticket before heading out for some serious gardening on a beautiful spring day.
Chilaquiles... or Migas... with Black Beans
Makes two servings ~ easily multiplied
1/4-1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 Anaheim chile pepper (skin charred and peeled) or two canned whole green chiles, finely chopped
1 Tbs. butter
1 plum tomato, finely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use Greek)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 corn tortilla, quick-fried, drained, and sliced into small pieces
Spicy black beans (see Note)
Cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese (I use a combination of both), finely grated
Tomato salsa of your choice
1/2 avocado, sliced into small wedges or cubes
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté briefly, just till beginning to soften. Add green chiles and cook an additional minute, then add tomatoes, mix together, and turn heat to low.
Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, yogurt and salt and pepper in a large bowl just until blended.
In another skillet over medium heat, warm the spicy black beans till bubbling. Turn heat to low and keep hot while cooking the egg mixture.
Add the egg mixture to the onion/chile mixture and cook slowly, folding gently as the eggs begin to take form. Add tortilla strips just when mixture begins to start pulling together, being sure to distribute pieces evenly to avoid clumping. Continue cooking slowly and gently until the mixture is softly scrambled but still moist.
To plate the dish, spoon a generous portion of the beans on the bottom of a warmed plate. Top with half of the chilaquiles, sprinkle with grated cheese, add a dollop of salsa and avocado wedges.
Serve with warm buttered flour or corn tortillas
This recipe makes enough for two ample servings; one to enjoy as a plate of migas and beans, the rest to wrap in a tortilla for a quick and easy burrito meal the next day.
For a good black bean recipe, try this or this. I like to add chipotle chile pepper and ground cumin seed for a little kick.
You don't have to use yogurt with the eggs, but it adds a creamy smoothness that makes all the difference to the dish. Greek yogurt is especially good for this purpose.