Ever since my first days as a grown up, in my crummy post-college apartment, I’ve tended to eat in cycles, picking one thing to eat for a week or two at a time. Sometimes, that thing is bagels slathered with cream cheese. Sometimes, it’s whole boxes of Cheez-it crackers. Lately, though, I’ve had a nearly insatiable craving for habanero peppers.
I’ve been mixing up quick-pickled habanero to ladle onto leftover pot roast nachos. I’ve been spiking my otherwise pretty gross canned Chunky soup with overly-aggressive shakes of Cholula. I’ve been adding green El Yucateco sauce in reckless amounts to jarred salsa, and then running around the house carrying on about my burning, blistered mouth. Each day, though, I wake up unsatisfied, ready to continue the never-ending assault on my palate with ever more heat.
It wasn’t long before I began trying to figure out a way to make eating tacos for breakfast socially acceptable, the way they do in Austin, Texas. Oh, sure, the world already has huevos rancheros; I was looking for something simpler, a more direct method for applying hot sauce to the insides of my sinuses.
The secret here is twofold. First, cook the scrambled eggs slow and low. They should take a fair investment of time to cook over low heat, while you lazily scrape a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan occasionally. Cook them on as low a flame as you can muster, and be patient. For breakfast tacos, I like the scrambled eggs to be just barely set, creamy, with a custard-like consistency. “Fluffiness” should only be the goal of a scrambled egg that is made from a powder and about to be served at the free continental breakfast in the lobby of a Quality Inn; your scrambled eggs should be soft, curdy, and ever-so-slightly underdone when you take them out of the pan.
The second part of the secret to this dish (and it’s really no secret to anyone), is that crunchy-fried bits of pork fat and skin instantly send any breakfast into the stratosphere. We used some leftover skin-on pork belly from a porchetta we had cooked a few days before, scoring the skin so that it puffs and crackles in a hot pan. The combination of tender meat, flavorful fat, and crunchy skin make the perfect compliment for the velvety eggs. And of course, if you don’t have a fridge full of leftover pork belly the way we usually do, you can always substitute some crumbled, thick-cut bacon.
You can invite your guests to assemble these tacos themselves, using any combination of toppings they like. We serve ours with sliced green onions, diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of cotija, and our patented fakey-crema (sour cream diluted with milk). You could also try adding some black beans, refried beans, or jalapenos. Of course, as with everything else I am eating these days, a liberal application of habanero hot sauce is recommended.
- 1 cup skin-on pork belly, finely chopped (see note)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 eggs
- 5 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, such as Jack or Cheddar
- 3 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons cotija or Parmesan cheese
- 8 small corn tortillas, warm
- Hot sauce
- In a small frying pan over high heat, warm oil until nearly smoking. Add pork belly and cook, stirring occasionally, until pork is brown and crunchy, about 10 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels, and set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs and water. Whisk until eggs are smooth, with whites and yolks incorporated. In a medium frying pan over very low heat, melt butter. Add eggs, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook slowly, dragging a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan when curds begin to form, about 5-7 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until eggs just barely begin to set. Add cheese, and continue cooking until cheese melts and eggs are no longer runny, about a minute more.
- Place a few spoonfuls of egg on a tortilla. Top with cooked pork belly, scallions, tomato, crema, and a sprinkle of cotija. Serve with hot sauce.
- Don't have any leftover pork belly? Substitute one pound of thick-cut bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled.