Huevos de Codornices en Rabo de Mestiza

The sequence of events goes like this. We grow some tomatillos (see blog post below). We need recipes for tomatillos. We buy “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico” by Diana Kennedy, who is the queen of Mexican cooking. This starts us off on an exploration of Mexican food, and provides inspiration as to what to do with the inevitable surpluses of produce that any allotments create at this time of year.

Diana Kennedy describes Huevos en Rabo de Mestiza (Eggs poached in a chilli-tomato broth) as a “delicious brunch dish”. And she’s right. This is now a Sunday brunch special!

We had a plentiful supply of onions, chillis, and tomatoes, and from our daughter’s flock, lots of quails’ eggs. The dish can be made with ordinary hens’ eggs, of course, but this works beautifully with the tiny quails’ eggs. We adapted the recipe to give a thicker sauce, and to use locally available cheese, since true queso fresco is a bit specialist in the UK.

So, thinly slice a large onion, and fry it gently in sunflower oil (olive oil isn’t native to Mexico), until softened. Slice three or four mild chillis (we deseed ours so as not to create too much heat, but use more chillis, leave the seeds in, use hotter chillis to taste), and cook them with the onion for a couple of minutes. Reserve.

Grill or oven bake a couple of pounds of fresh tomatoes until they just start to blacken, and VERY briefly blend them. You don’t want a puree, but a coarsely chopped mixture. You can also chop them with a sharp knife, providing you don’t lose the juice.

Add the tomatoes to the onion and chilli mixture and cook over a fairly hot flame for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add water to achieve the desired consistency. We added about half a cup; the original recipe calls for three cups. Put the sauce into a suitable oven-proof serving dish, and break a dozen quails’ eggs (or four hens’ eggs) into the liquid. Arrange slices of feta or mozzarella (or of course queso fresco if you have it) between the eggs, cover, and gently poach the eggs until done to your liking. This can be done on top of the stove or in the oven.

Serve with tortillas and refried beans.

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