By happy coincidence, I flipped on Nigella Express yesterday just in time to see her snipping rolled-up corn tortillas into a hot skillet to brown and crisp them before adding a slurry of egg, tomatoes and chopped fresh chilies. Hey, good idea, and using things I happen to currently have in my kitchen. I don’t usually keep fresh corn tortillas on hand, but when I do I’m always looking for new ways to use them, since they come in a 50-pack. (Tomorrow, the rest are going into the freezer, to resurface later on in the year.)
So, since Mike is playing an afternoon show and heading straight out afterwards, I’m cooking for one. Well, one and a half, but the half just downed a whole wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana, and close to his own weight in dried apricots (thankfully we’ve just passed the diaper stage). I’m in just the mood for a bowl of spicy eggs with lots of crispy bits, so thought I’d give Nigella’s recipe a whirl – the only thing I’m missing is the black satin wrap dress. I’m not convinced this is the best choice of outfits when cooking something that splatters anyway.
It was fast, it was easy. Although I have toasted many a corn tortilla, it never occurred to me to cut them into strips first. The long, thin pieces browned quickly, and I bet they’d be fantastic on a salad. As for the jalapeno, it doesn’t make things as hot as you’d think. (And I’m sorry for the recurring theme – but I had a bag in the fridge since researching that article on chilies, and I hate wasting things, even when it’s a jalapeno pepper that cost all of 6 cents.) To turn the heat down a bit, remove the seeds and membranes, which account for about 80% of the capsaicin - the substance that makes chilies burn. If you do, you can get away with using a whole jalapeno for 2 eggs (if I can do it, so can you - I’m a wuss when it comes to spicy food). Halved grape tomatoes go perfectly into eggs without watering them down with excessive juice. Beyond the tomatoes, this would have been fab with any number of toss-ins: mushrooms, chunks of asparagus, bits of ham…
I did resist the urge to smother it in cheese. Until halfway through, that is, when I remembered the chunk of queso fresco (fresh cheese) I had acquired at La Tiendona market awhile ago (along with the corn tortillas) and forgotten in the depths of the fridge. It would really be a shame to not use it before it goes slimy. And creamy, salty, ultra-meltable and almost feta-esque queso fresco would really go well with the spicy-soft eggs and crispy shards of tortilla. It was like a breakfast burrito bomb exploded deliciously on my plate. Perfect Saturday afternoon couch food.
Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Crispy Corn Tortilla Strips (for one – bump up the ingredients as necessary for the number of people you want to feed)
Canola or olive oil, for cooking with
1-2 small corn tortillas
1 jalapeno or small red chile pepper, seeded and minced
a small handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1 chopped green onion (optional
salt and pepper
Heat a good drizzle of oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat, and cook the tortilla strips, tossing them about occasionally, until golden and crisp. Transfer to a plate. Add the jalapeno and tomatoes (the juice will make them splatter) and cook for a minute, until the tomato begins to soften and darken on the edges.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, adding a drizzle of water or milk if you like. Add to the hot pan, along with the green onion, if you’re using it, and some salt and pepper. Gently push the eggs around in the skillet, allowing the uncooked egg to run underneath the cooked egg. Turn the heat off while they are still slightly runny, and allow them to finish cooking with their own heat; you want them to be nice and creamy, not hard and curd-like which is how overcooked scrambled eggs often end up.
Add the crispy tortilla strips to the pan, toss to combine them, then transfer to a wide, shallow bowl and eat on the couch.