When you love food and you love to travel, you get all kinds of inspired when the two are combined; and if you're doing it right, the two come hand in hand. You can't possibly visit a new place or new culture without indulging in the food there, especially if the place is known for something. Enter Mexico: land of the best tacos, pico de gallo, limes, fresh fish, and ceviche, just to name the first few things that come to mind. But after over a week of this kind of cuisine (starting, practically, with some sort of poolside tequila cocktail or Pacifico for breakfast), I thought I'd become tired (tired enough, in fact, to order a burger/onion rings/malted milkshake from Johnny Rocket's at the Puerto Vallarta airport...PS: beyond questionable decision) but I should have known better. This brief divergence set me straight and I was back on course; back to my old self, always, always craving Mexican flavors and foods, no matter the time or the place. And since arriving back home, the cravings combined with recent experiences and exposure have resulted in some serious Mexican experimenting in the kitchen.
For instance, eggs and potatoes are commonplace at any breakfast table, but my taste buds were pulling me in a specific (south, way south, and far west) direction this past weekend. So these papas bravas, of sorts, were born: crisped up in butter, coated in chili spices and lime juice, and topped with cheese and a sunny-side up egg in all its yolky glory.
Sunny side papas bravas
Yields 4 large servings
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ancho chili powder
¼ tsp chipotle chili powder
¼ tsp Mexican oregano
Freshly cracked black pepper
1½ lbs fingerling potatoes
2 T salt, divided
2 T butter
A couple of lime wedges, plus extra for serving
⅓ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (or pepper jack, if you prefer)
4 sunny-side up eggs, which can be cooked during the last step
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Then make the spice mixture. In a small bowl, stir together garlic powder, onion powder, the various chili powders, Mexican oregano, and black pepper. Set aside. When water is boiling, add in 1 T salt, followed by the potatoes. Boil for 6-7 minutes until just barely fork tender. Drain potatoes in a colander and slice them in half the long way. Spread them out on a clean dish towel, cut side down. While they dry out, heat the largest skillet you have over medium-low heat with 1 T butter (assuming you're going to do this in two batches). Swirl melted butter around pan to coat. Carefully lay half of the potatoes cut side down in pan. Don't disturb them for at least 5 minutes while they crisp up. After 5 minutes, squeeze a lime wedge over them, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt, and then use tongs to check if they're golden, crisp, and ready to flip. If so, flip them over, and cook for about 2-3 minutes more. Use tongs to remove them from pan and set aside in a large bowl. Remove pan from heat and use a paper towel to carefully wipe out the pan. Place it over medium-low heat again, add remaining tablespoon of butter, and repeat process with second half of potatoes. When these potatoes are finished, combine them with the first batch. Sprinkle potatoes with 2 tsp of the spice mixture, and the remaining ½ tsp salt. Use a large spoon to toss potatoes to coat them evenly, and divide them into oven safe dishes (shallow bowls or plates will do). Then sprinkle potatoes with grated cheddar cheese. With the oven rack in the highest position, turn oven to Low Broil, and broil potatoes for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, make your sunny side up eggs, sprinkled with salt and a tiny bit of the leftover spice mixture. Just before serving, squeeze another lime wedge over potatoes, and then top each dish of potatoes with an egg. Serve right away with extra lime edges, plus maybe some hot sauce for anyone who likes a little extra heat.