Getting this humble Mexican breakfast just right is easy when you have homemade tortillas and ripe tomatoes lying around. All we had were mediocre supermarket staples.

The Problem

The huevos rancheros found on American brunch menus more often resemble heaping plates of nachos than the quick, satisfying, south-of-the-border meal of tortillas, eggs, and salsa.

The Goal

We wanted to use supermarket staples to produce the most authentic version possible.

The Solution

We started at the top, analyzing how to improve the salsa. We enhanced the flavor of the base vegetables (tomatoes, chiles, and onions) with a little tomato paste and then roasted them. Adding garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and cilantro gave the salsa a zesty, clean flavor. The next layer, the fried eggs, presented a true challenge: Even if we didn't break the yolks when we placed the egg on top of the tortilla, it ended up looking ragged and irregular. Poaching the eggs in the hot salsa not only left them looking perfect but also gave them a boost of flavor. Finally, we brushed supermarket tortillas with oil, sprinkled a little salt on top, and toasted them so they'd be crisp and dry enough to provide a sturdy and flavorful base for the eggs and salsa.