If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: A late-night staple that wants to be your 5-ingredient, 10-minute meal -- even in the light of day.
I’m not quite sure when I stumbled upon these scrambled egg tacos. I know only that I did, in fact, stumble: I mostly make these after midnight, running on fumes and maybe a little whiskey. I like to think that it happened one night when I opened my fridge and saw before me the perfect union of convenience and heft: tortillas near languish in the crisper drawer, a craggly half moon of avocado, eggs.
I also like to think that everyone has their version of this dish -- the food they count on to be ready in less than 15 minutes and consumed in under that; the food that can and will materialize from a seemingly empty fridge or pantry. The food that proves late-night cooking is alchemy.
But it’s food that's also strict: It can’t be frilly. And unless by “garnish” you mean a random, lazy application of hot sauce, it can’t have them. The fewer utensils it uses, the better. If it’s not mostly cheap, very easy, and extremely good-tasting, it will never make the cut for long.
These tacos meet that late-night holy trinity.
I make them after long, cocktail-filled nights; just as long, bleary-eyed work days; and after parties that promise food but do not deliver. (Food parties, take note: I appreciate your handsome Spanish men delicately shaving pieces of Iberico off a hulking leg of ham, but it does not a dinner make.) I make them when the thought of running to a bodega now feels Sisyphean. As in: We’ve already made it up two flights of stairs and successfully taken off both of our shoes. Let’s not push it, okay?
This is point-A-to-point-B cooking -- the quick, dirty, and honest pursuit of food we usually forget to talk about because we’re too busy holding hands and singing kumbaya over mind-blowing grits or the tantric braised onion sauce we’ve just learned. It’s slapdash, maybe, but that doesn’t make it less good. It makes it resourceful, and humble -- it never asks to be the subject of a sermon.
So I’ll preach quietly, and quickly: Blister a few tortillas (double up on them if you’re really going for it) over an open flame, and while they char, start scrambling a few eggs. Then apply avocado to the flamed tortillas, now crispy and burnt in places. This can go a few ways, depending on the time of night and how civilized you’re feeling: If not very, just smash it into the tortilla with reckless abandon. If quite, you may cut slices and lay them down like a proper cook. Both will be good. To this palette of avocado and smoky tortilla, pile your eggs, some sour cream, and a lashing of your favorite hot sauce. (If you’re not a real Adult yet and you don’t keep things like sour cream on hand, use the yogurt you bought for tomorrow’s breakfast. Or set yourself up for next time: Pre-mix a batch of yogurt and hot sauce and stash it in the fridge. You’ll be coming back for it later.) No matter how tired you are, never forget the salt.
What you’ll have is everything you wanted, and more: Fast, good food you can eat with your hands. And because tacos often spill at random, you’re allowed to be slightly animalistic about the whole affair -- a very good perk, because no one has the energy for manners in the middle of the night. I felt odd making these in a well-lit kitchen and styling them for a camera -- they are at their best when cooked by dim, early morning kitchen light, and hastily -- but you’ll rectify that for me tonight, won’t you?
2 to 4 small corn tortillas (you can double them up on each taco if you wish)
1 ripe avocado
Yogurt or sour cream
Your favorite hot sauce
Photos by James Ransom