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Recipe #14: Paddy’s Rancheros

I’ve always admired the way that bachelormen, or indeed most men in a situation not overseen by a woman, are able to streamline their eating habits. For instance, Warren Buffet stops at a McDonalds Drive Thru for his breakfast every morning. He bases his choice of a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit ($3.17) or a sausage McMuffin with egg and cheese ($2.95) on how the market’s doing that day. I know another, arguably healthier (although probably not wealthier) man who eats two Weetbix for breakfast every single morning of his life. He doesn’t bother with another option. Ever.

In contrast, not only do I never know what I’m going to have for breakfast, but I seldom remember to eat it before noon. This makes it difficult to decide whether to eat something breakfast-like, or to admit defeat and try to work out what to eat for lunch instead. The overwhelming concatenation of decision-making usually causes me to abandon all feeding efforts until around 4pm, when my stomach starts sending polite memos that it doesn’t care which meal is served, as long as it is served soon.

Which all goes to explain why I’m so enormously grateful to my friend Paddy, the clever bachelorman who gave me this recipe. Because you can serve beans rancheros as breakfast, lunch, or dinner – no matter what time you get around to eating them. And, with the unfortunate exception of the bread, the ingredients are all things you can keep in your fridge, freezer and pantry for several weeks. As long as you remember to keep a few basics in stock, Paddy’s Rancheros will always have your back.

There are two more very good reasons this meal has become my bachelorwoman go-to: it’s super easy to make, and it’s ridiculously tasty. Maybe too tasty, actually. Because, according to Paddy, you’re not really supposed to be able to eat the entire pan by yourself in one sitting. But then, he probably eats breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet chopped bacon bits (250g)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • A gurgle of olive oil
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes (I like chopped, Paddy prefers whole)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp smoked (or normal) chilli flakes (depending on how hot you want it)
  • 1 tsp smoked (or normal) paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 or 3 eggs
  • A couple of large handfuls of grated cheese (mature white cheddar is a good choice)
  • A loaf of Pugliese bread from The Real Bread Company in Muizenberg – The Official Bread of Paddy’s Rancheros
  • Some butter

What to do

  • Chop your onion and garlic and chuck them in an oven-proof stainless steel frying pan with the olive oil and bacon bits. (By oven proof, I mean don’t use one with a plastic handle as it might melt later.)
  • Fry the bacon, onion and garlic for a bit until they’re not raw.
  • Dump all the other ingredients in the pan, except for the eggs and cheese, and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and your stomach sends memos marked ‘URGENT’.
  • Turn your oven to 180 Celsius (360 for you Fahrenheit Freaks) and let it heat up, then crack the eggs on top of the bean mixture and sprinkle the cheese over it all.
  • Put the whole pan in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling nicely. Remove the pan from the oven. Use oven gloves.
  • Toast a couple of slices of your Pugliese bread, butter it, and put it on a plate topped with a wodge of rancheros.
  • Try not to eat entire pan of rancheros in one sitting. It may help to invite a friend over.

Time taken

About 15 minutes of active preparation, plus a respectable amount of time for simmering – say 30 minutes. Total, around 45 minutes.

Dishes dirtied

  • 1 frying pang*
  • 1 knife
  • 1 chopping bored*
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 cheese greater*
  • 1 tin opener

*Not typos. Me pretending to be an Ethiopian menu.