Friday, August 1, 2008

An Understated Onion is a Beautiful Thing

When I was growing up I was pained by the fact that we had the same five things for dinner over and over again. It would usually be a large pot of some meat cooked with vegetables and rice, so boring. When the pot was completely empty and my mom had to make dinner she often turned to eggs. From living a year in El Salvador I found out that, at least in the country, people often turn to eggs at any meal time when they are in a pinch, which makes sense since you don't have much room for messing up and your meal is prepared quickly. My mom usually sauteed something and then broke the eggs over that. She'd let them fry and then serve with tortillas and canned beans.

Last summer while visiting my parents I made what my mom had been making all those years as a back up meal every day for breakfast. It was really amazing, with some smart additions and modifications. Her method of making eggs brought a subtely out in onions that is worth letting the world know. What follows is a recipe that is worth repeating over and over, ad infinitum.

Tacos de Huevos con Piccado Fresco (20 minutes)


A medium to large onion
Two eggs
Tablespoon and a 1/2 of high quality butter (don't skimp!)
Mexican soft tortillas
Medium sized Tomato
Salt to taste


Four sprigs of Cilantro
Three sprigs of curly parsely
Half a pint of cherry tomatoes
Half a green pepper
Two shoots of scallions
Juice of a lemon
Dash of hot sauce
Salt to taste

Begin by rinsing all of your produce, so you don't forget to do it later. Then continue by slicing the onion by the 1/4 inch. Set the butter in the pan and melt over low heat. Add the onions and spread them out so they get equal surface area. Leave the pan uncovered and begin by chopping the cherry tomatoes in half; add this and all the other produce in the piccado into the same bowl. Like the tomatoes, chop the green pepper. Remember, speed trumps beatuy here. The longer you let the ingridients sit together the better. Also, if you're making for breakfast, you'll want to have the food ready quickly. The beauty of it comes in the combination of colors and smells. Now the next step will be to do the same to the scallions and then address the cilantro and parsley. Begin by removing the stems from the cilantro leaves. You can pluck all of the leaves off and then chop. Since the dish is rustic, however, I just chop off most of the stem part and then chop. You can do the same with the parsley. After this, all you have to do is sqeeze your lemon juice in, add the dash of hot sauce and salt and let sit.

While you are preparing the piccado you should keep an eye on the onion. You don't really need to fuss over it too much. When you see that the onions are getting translucent you can turn them over. Keep the temperature low. What you want to do is let the bite disipate slowly. When you have put the piccado to the side, let the last bit of butter melt into the pan and raise temperature to high. Let the tips of the onion singe and right when those singes want to burn crack the eggs and lower temperature to medium high.

Next, if on a gas stove, put a tortilla on a burner. To heat perfectly you want to keep the temperature moderately high, but lower right before turning. It will take about a minute to heat an entire tortilla. When you heat the first, place on plate, turn your eggs over. Please pay attention, you don't want scrambled eggs. Please flip eggs gently and try to keep them more or less in tact. Perfection is obsolete here, but you still should mind an aesthetic. Heat your next tortilla and check on the eggs. They might need a little bit more time. If so, take the time to take a few wedges from your tomato. When the eggs are ready the yokes will be at the point right beyond runny. If you make this a few times you'll be able to eye it. Remember, eggs cook pretty quickly, so don't fuss too much about avoiding runny eggs.

When you take the eggs off the heat split into the two tortillas. Cut enough avocado slices to cover the side of each tortilla, add a tomato wedge or two and sprinkle salt. Pour a little hot sauce, close your taco and bite! Follow with hearty mouthful of piccado.

Beverage reccomendation: OJ

Como siempre, buen provecho!!

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