Adapted from Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press)
1 jalapeño chile
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot lobe, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in their juices
1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup cooked black beans, preferably homemade, drained
1/4 cup black bean cooking liquid (or water if canned), plus more as needed
1 corn muffin or square of cornbread
Remove the stem from the jalapeño and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out and reserve the seeds, then finely chop the flesh.
Pour the oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the shallot, garlic, poblano, jalapeño flesh, and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and let the mixture gently simmer until it has thickened to a saucelike consistency, 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, poach the eggs*, keeping them warm by transferring them once they’re poached properly to a bowl of 120˚F water.
Taste the sauce and add more water, if desired. Season with salt and pepper. If it’s not spicy enough, add some of the reserved jalapeño seeds until you reach the desired level of heat. Refrigerate or freeze half of the sauce for another use. Stir the cilantro into the remaining sauce, cover, and remove from the heat.
Pour the beans and their cooking liquid into another small, preferably nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Use a potato masher or a large fork to mash the beans, and let them cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a little liquid if necessary to keep them spreadable, and remove from the heat.
Cut off the domed top of the corn muffin, then cut the muffin in half horizontally. Toast the muffin halves under the broiler or in a toaster oven until golden brown on the cut side.
Transfer the muffins to a plate, cut side up. Spread half the beans on top of each muffin; top with a poached egg and the ranchero sauce. Crumble the reserved muffin top over the sauce, and eat.
Note: This recipe makes twice as much sauce as you need. Before adding the cilantro, refrigerate half of it in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for several months, and use the extra sauce for more Benedict Rancheros another time, on quesadillas or nachos, or whisked with oil and vinegar for a salad dressing.
*How to poach eggs:
Line a plate with paper towels. Bring several inches of heavily salted water to a boil in a large sauté pan. Decrease the heat slightly so that the water is bubbling gently but not boiling.
Crack the egg into a small dish or ramekin, then pour it into a large slotted spoon held over a small bowl. Swirl the egg around in the spoon so that the thinnest white dribbles into the bowl. Rinse the spoon.
Tip the egg from the spoon into the bubbling water. Cook until the white is set but the yolk still wobbles when you press it, 3 to 4 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the egg to the paper towel-lined plate.
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Joe Yonan is the two-time James Beard Award-winning Food and Travel editor of The Washington Post and the author of the upcoming Eat Your Vegetables: Fresh Recipes for the Single Cook (Ten Speed Press, August 6, 2013). In 2011, he wrote Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One, which Serious Eats called “a truly thoughtful, useful, and incredibly delicious book.”
(Photo: Ed Anderson courtesy of Random House)