Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eat Me: Huevos Rancheros

Melvil Dewey and his wife have also been working their way through Kenny Shopsin's Eat Me, and Melvil sent this report:

There is an emerging consensus among the adults in our house that while Kenny Shopsin's cookbook is immensely entertaining, his recipes could stand to be more detailed and more carefully vetted. I have to assume one of the problems is that it's challenging to scale recipes down to normal family size when you've been making everything in restaurant size batches for years. Fortunately, Shopsin, like Mark Bittman, gives his readers the freedom to tinker with the recipes as much as they wish, so one can use the recipes in the book as a template or starting point.

First example of the problem (and the solution):

Huevos Rancheros. The end-product of this recipe was delicious (and maybe that's all that should really matter), but the production process (for my wife, who made this dish) was fraught. First, the list of ingredients calls for a diced potato, but the text of the recipe doesn't mention the potato. One can fairly easily figure out what to do with the potato, but this kind of ingredient discontinuity can be disorienting (and occasionally disastrous.) 

Second, the recipe calls for no seasoning at all - not even the obligatory "salt and pepper to taste." I have to assume Shopsin himself would add salt and pepper to the dish. 

Third, Shopsin's method for cooking the eggs separate from everything else in the dish did not turn out well. Ms. Dewey, who (unlike me) has made huevos rancheros before, much prefers the Cook's Illustrated method in which you just crack the eggs into the top of all the other stuff, cover the pan, and let the heat and steam from the other ingredients cook the eggs. After Shopsin's method resulted in a jumble of broken yolks and egg whites arc-welded to the bottom of the frying pan, Ms. Dewey defaulted to the Cook's technique, and everything turned out beautifully. As she summed it up afterwards, "I think Kenny Shopsin probably would benefit from a little Christopher Kimball, and maybe vice-versa."


  1. Does the Egg Cream call for water milk -- I see in the photo below of the ingredients that you've got the water milk pictured. Wld be better with regular milk, yes?

  2. I'd also say that having this new voice come in, and in italics no less, is a nice new touch to this blogspot.blogspot. I hope this can become a regular feature -- having someone else try something from the same book and writing about the results.

  3. I think we can all agree that Huevos Rancheros is fun to say but kind of a disgusting name.
    Once at Mel's Diner in S.F. I meant to order this breakfast they have with a tortilla and sausage and eggs but I ordered the Huevos Rancheros by mistake. It was OK.