G Daniela Galarza
THE WASHINGTON POST – When I mentioned to my editor, Joe Yonan, that I was going to write about breakfast tacos, his eyes started to twinkle and his lips turned up into a grand smile. He’s a Texan, after all, and Texans know breakfast tacos.
“OK, but have you had a migas breakfast taco?” he asked. We spent the next half-hour talking about migas and chilaquiles, whether a breakfast taco needs eggs to be considered a breakfast taco – more on that in a minute! – and some of his favourite spots to get breakfast tacos in Texas. The conversation ended with us debating the merits of corn vs flour tortillas as a breakfast taco conduit.
Author of American Tacos and the taco editor at Texas Monthly José R Ralat regularly writes about breakfast tacos. He has tried to untangle the debate between beef strips and bits, opined on the brilliance of weenies and eggs, and considered the beauty of a well-made flour tortilla.
“A great breakfast taco is about choice, and Texans have a bounty of choice in regionally distinct options,” Ralat told me, noting that a breakfast taco doesn’t need to contain eggs to be a taco you eat for breakfast.
“Traditionally, it begins with a flour tortilla, though corn’s okay, too. They vary in size and thickness, from the nearly translucent, platter-size flour tortillas of Brownsville to the smaller, thick and dusty cushions of San Antonio.”
If you walk into a diner in San Antonio or South Texas – the geographic home of breakfast tacos – the filling options are myriad.
Think: the chunky beef stew that is carne guisada or barbacoa. Saucy chilaquiles or refried beans and brisket.
Mostly, Ralat wants non-Texans to know that breakfast tacos aren’t an Austin thing.
“There is no such thing as Austin-style breakfast tacos,” he said. “They come from South Texas towns like Laredo, Brownsville and Corpus Christi, and thrive in all their creative glory in San Antonio. The farther north one travels in the state, the more limited the breakfast taco options.”
Above all, Ralat said a great breakfast taco should be salty, soft and comforting.
“The greatest breakfast taco is the one made at home,” he said.
Two servings (Makes four small tacos)
– Three large eggs
– Quarter teaspoon fine salt
– Two tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
– Four (five-inch) tortillas, corn or flour
– Two scallions, white and light green parts sliced
– Quarter cup (two ounces) crumbled or shredded cheese (optional; may substitute vegan cheese)
– A few sprigs fresh cilantro
– Chile oil or hot sauce, to taste
– Lime wedges, for serving
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt until homogeneous and foamy, about
To reheat corn tortillas: In a large skillet over medium heat, add about one teaspoon of oil.
Slide one of the tortillas around to grease the skillet with the oil, then add the remaining tortillas in a single layer. It’s okay if they overlap a bit.
Heat the tortillas until they begin to puff or brown, about three minutes, then flip and heat until they develop a few light brown spots, another three minutes. Using tongs, remove the tortillas from the skillet. Or you may steam them in a barely damp towel in the microwave.
To reheat flour tortillas: Warm over a low open flame until speckled spots appear, or steam them in a barely damp towel in the microwave.
Increase the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the skillet. When it shimmers, turn off the heat. Carefully add the whisked eggs and, using a rubber spatula, stir eggs so they form large, fluffy curds – or cook the eggs until they are as done as you like.
Divide the scrambled eggs among the tortillas. Top with the scallions, cheese, if using, cilantro and chile oil or hot sauce, and serve, with lime wedges for squeezing.