Separated by a dividing line of refried beans, two gently fried eggs sit opposite one another on their contrasting salsas. With a pair of warm tortillas alongside, this is huevos divorciados, one of the world’s finest chili-fired breakfast treats.
Here’s a happy dish that’s all about having fun with flavor. The fun element matters because it adds an extra layer of pleasure to enjoying its exceptional diversity of flavors.
Lots of food can tick the box for being wonderfully enjoyable, but huevos divorciados falls into the rare category of also bringing its very own upbeat, party-time vibe to the table.
For sure, much of the fun is down to how it looks on the plate. There’s a balanced symmetry of earthy greens, reds, and browns that’s brightened by the glowing whites of the eggs and the warm sunshine of their yolks. And beneath those colorful good looks, there’s an equal variety of very different tastes and textures.
A double act of salsas
That variety begins with the salsas. The red one, salsa roja, is based on cherry tomatoes that are roasted hot-and-fast with a couple of fresh, red bird’s eye chilies, plenty of garlic, a little olive oil, and a sprinkling of sugar and salt. That hot roasting gives the tomatoes a few patches of dark char that adds an underlying smokiness to their natural, jammy sweetness.
And that lingering, jammy sweetness is the ideal partner for the immediate, fiery brightness of bird’s eye chilies. Especially when they’re fresh, they have a fruity, potent heat that’s instantly apparent. The result is a salsa that’s loud and quiet all the same time. That balancing of opposites works outstandingly well because it emphasizes the contrasts that define the appeal of huevos divorciados.
On the other side: Our salsa verde, the more subtly flavored green one, is made with bell peppers and scallions that are gently softened in water and then seasoned with cilantro, parsley, and lime juice. It has a brightly fresh, just slightly bitter, grassiness that’s accentuated by adding a sparse amount of very finely chopped green bird’s eye chili right at the end of its cooking. You’ll notice the sparky heat, but it won’t mask the distinctive, vibrantly fresh flavors of the other ingredients.
The heartily robust refried beans
The beans are the backbone of your huevos divorciados, and they’re full of contrasts all on their own. To start with, I used a canned mix of beans – pinto, black-eyed, lima, borlotti, cannellini, and flageolet. So, that’s already a host of variety in terms of flavor, color, size, and texture.
And to give them big boost of flavor, the beans are stir-fried with onion and garlic that’s been softened in a skillet along with a generous amount of slightly crisped, roughly diced, smoked bacon and a splash of olive oil. Fried over medium-high heat, this means the beans pick up a little crunch on their outsides and absorb all the rich, smoky savor of the bacon.
To heighten the effect of that absorbing flavor flow, the beans get a little working over with a potato masher, not anywhere nearly enough to puree them, but just enough to produce a fifty-fifty mix of whole beans to crushed beans and add a creamy dimension to their texture.
The eggs, tortillas, and wedges of lime
I opted for softly fried eggs because I like the way their glowing whites surround that sunshiny yolk, adding a final, crowning contrast to a dish that’s all about contrasts. Poached eggs would certainly be grand, but they won’t give you the same striking effect as fried.
Freshly squeezed over the refried beans, a few wedges of lime bring in a sharpening, tangy edge to the infused fattiness of the bacon, and, here we go again, add a whole new set of contrasts.
As for the softly warmed tortillas, well, I hardly need say what their gentle neutrality adds to a dish that’s so full of strongly distinctive flavors.
Like this recipe? You’ll love these too:
- Anda Bhurji: Another delicious brunch eggs recipe, full of exotic flavors.
- Spicy Baked Eggs In Avocado: As tasty and healthy as they are pretty on the plate!
- Chili Buttered Eggs With Roasted Ratatouille: Another incredible brunch show-stopper.
For the refried beans
- 2 cans mixed beans 14 ounce cans, rinsed and drained
- 8 ounces smoked bacon roughly chopped into ¼-inch dice
- 2 yellow onions medium-sized, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying the bacon, onion, and garlic
For the salsa roja
- 4 fresh red Thai bird’s eye chilies cut into 4 slices, seeds and all. The ones I used were each about 2 ½ inches long.
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes whole
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lime juice and flesh from the lime
For the salsa verde
- 1 fresh green Thai bird’s eye chili roughly chopped, seeds and all
- 4 green bell peppers deseeded and cut into 1/3-inch dice. Take a little care to choose really fresh peppers that have perfectly smooth, glossy skins. (By doing that, you’ll avoid having to remove the skins by charring the skins and then peeling them off.)
- 8 scallions or spring onions, with the white and green parts cut into 1/3-inch slices. Use as much of the crisp green stalks as you can.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 ounce fresh parsley roughly chopped, stalks and all
- 1 ounce fresh cilantro finely chopped stalks and all
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the eggs
- 8 large eggs 2 per person
- 1 tablespoon salted butter for frying the eggs
For the tortillas
- 16 tortillas 10-inch tortillas, 2 per person
For the lime wedges
- 4 limes quartered
Making the salsa roja
- We’ll start with the salsa roja because it takes a little longer to cook. So, set your oven to 400F / 200C.
- Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish that’s big enough to hold the tomatoes snugly in a single layer. Use your fingers to make sure everything gets a coating of the oil, lime juice, salt, and sugar.
- Set the dish in your hot oven and let it roast for ten minutes at 400F / 200C. Then give the dish a turning stir, and let it roast for another ten minutes.
- You’re aiming for the tomatoes to char slightly and for them to lose most of their body. Once that happens, remove the dish and set it aside to cool while you make the salsa verde and the refried beans.
Making the salsa verde
- Add the water, green bird’s eye chili, green bell pepper, and scallions (or spring onions) to a medium size saucepan and set it on medium-high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, drop the heat to low and cover the pan.
- Let it slowly simmer on that low heat for 15 minutes with a few stirs so that the peppers and scallions become thoroughly softened, and almost all the water has cooked off.
- Now stir in the chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, and olive oil, and turn off the heat. Let the pan sit uncovered while you make the refried beans.
Making the refried beans
- For this I used a heavy-based, 12-inch skillet that was pretty much big enough to hold all the beans in a single layer.
- Set your skillet on a high heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat until it starts to shimmer, and then stir in the diced bacon.
- Stir-fry the bacon on that high heat for 90 seconds, then drop the heat to medium-high and let the bacon sizzle away with the occasional stir for 4 minutes. You want the bacon to begin to crisp and take on some color as most of the fat melts from it. Bear in mind that the bacon will continue to crisp and darken as you fry it along with the onion and garlic, which happens right now.
- Keep the heat on medium-high and stir in the onion so that it gets coated in the bacon-fatted oil. Stir fry the bacon and onion for another 2 minutes on that medium-high heat, add the garlic and salt, and drop the heat to medium-low. Continue frying with a few stirs until the onion has softened and begins to pick up a little golden color.
- Now add the beans, give the skillet a thorough stir and turn the heat to medium-high. Slowly stir fry the whole mix for about 3 minutes so that the skins of the beans begin to crisp a little. Turn off the heat – that’s it, the refried beans are cooked. Now’s a good time to check for saltiness and adjust according to your taste.
Getting ready to serve onto warm plates
- Start with the salsas. They both need a little more work before serving. For this, you’ll need to turn the salsas – one at a time – onto a good-sized chopping board and give them a rough chopping.
- Once they’re chopped so they still have some obvious body and texture, transfer them to their own small saucepans to be warmed through on low heat, so that they’re ready to serve.
- The refried beans also need to be warmed and given a light crushing with a potato masher. So, set their skillet on low heat and give them a few mashings as they slowly heat ready for plating. I like to mash them to a point where I have a fairly equal mix of crushed and whole beans.
- Once the salsas and mashed beans are gently warming, you can fry the eggs to your liking in the butter, and warm the tortillas.
- I find the best way to handle the eggs is to use a skillet that’s big enough to fry all 8 of the eggs at the same time.
- And while the eggs are frying, I use another skillet set on a high heat to quickly warm the tortillas for about 2 minutes on each side. Roll each warmed tortilla into a cylinder and wrap them all together in a tea towel so they retain a little heat and don’t start to dry out.
Plating your huevos divorciados
- Spoon a ridge of refried beans about three inches wide right across the centre of each warmed plate.
- Add the salsa roja on one side of beans, and the salsa verde on the opposite side.
- Now top each salsa with an egg and serve with the tortillas and quartered limes.