Crispy Tortilla Eggs with Avocado and Lime

Crispy Tortilla Eggs with Avocado and Lime
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright 2008 by American Public Media.

Serves 4

5 minutes prep time; 5 minutes stove time
Stale tortillas are a must; fresh won't crisp as well

Blindfolded, you'd know Sally's house because of the aroma of cumin. She's bewitched by Mexican cuisine. Good-quality corn tortillas are a staple in her house, as are books by Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless.

The recipe for this dish, at its most primal, begs for variations, so follow your heart: add shrimp, roasted chiles, olives, fresh herbs - you get the idea.

3 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
4 stale corn tortillas, cut into long narrow strips
2 tablespoons chopped mild onion
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
6 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup good-quality salsa
1/3 cup crumbled mild cheese, such as Monterey Jack or Brick
1 avocado, sliced
1 lime, halved
1/4 cup Mexican crema, sour cream, or plain whole-milk yogurt (optional)

1. Film a large saute pan with the olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat until the oil looks wavy. Add the tortilla strips and fry until they are beginning to crisp, about 1 minute. Don't move them around too much; let them crisp on one side and then turn them.

2. Add the chopped onion and continue frying until the tortilla strips are crispy and nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and spoon off any extra fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in the pan.

3. Return the pan to the burner, reducing the heat to medium. Move the majority of the strips to the edge of the pan, leaving about 3 inches clear in the center. Pour the eggs in the center and partially over the strips. Allow the eggs to set, and then gently pull them apart, letting the uncooked egg reach the surface of the pan. Once the eggs are firmly set, turn them in large pieces to finish cooking.

4. Serve with the salsa, cheese, slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime, and if you wish, the crema or sour cream.

LYNNE'S TIPS

Look for organic sprouted-corn tortillas in your supermarket freezer case. They are toothy and rustic and very delicious. We like the Food for Life brand out of Corona, California (www.foodforlife.com).

A nonstick pan works well here. If you are using a conventional pan, be generous with the oil.

Brick is a semi-soft, cow's milk cheese that melts into a smooth, gooey wonderfulness. It's the one to pick for grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers, quesadillas, stratas, and all kinds of egg dishes.

THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE

A good online source for Mexican kitchenware is www.melissaguerra.com. This is the place for tortilla steamers, molcajetes and colorful brushes for cleaning them, molinillos for frothing hot chocolate, comals for making tortillas and much more. Tabletop collectors will be tempted by the wonderfully colorful, lead-free dinnerware and hand-blown glassware. Take a look.