Just a couple months ago, my husband and I eloped to Austin, Texas. We had a blast on our short trip, soaking up the SXSW music and eating some unforgettable Tex-Mex cuisine. I sought to recreate my favorite dish — breakfast tacos — back here in California, and the results were delicious!
Torchy’s Tacos is an Austin institution. Their tacos are king-sized and delicious, piled high with toppings both traditional and unexpected. If you’re ever in town, you must try their breakfast tacos, which are topped with scrambled eggs, beans, potatoes, salsa, bacon, and cheese. I’ve made my own version a few times now, and I've finally gotten the order of operations down pat.
Great tacos rely on great timing — they must be assembled just before serving for the best results. This is our favorite method for dishing up piping-hot breakfast tacos to a table full of hungry brunch guests.
I've listed enough ingredients to serve four people. This makes two hefty tacos per person, piled high with scrambled eggs, well-seasoned pinto beans, crunchy home fries, and all the fixings. Simply scale the quantities up if your guest list is larger (or if your four guests have lumberjack-sized appetites). The method will be exactly the same. Look to the end of the recipe for a few notes about using larger cookware to accommodate more servings.
The components of the recipe are simple, and they’re written out in a deliberate sequence so that everything will come together at the right time. Be sure to read through the recipe once or twice to get a feel for the kitchen ballet you’re about to perform. It’s not difficult, but it does take a little bit of planning.
I've also done my best to streamline the taco-making process, so you don’t need an extra set of hands to pull this off. I let the potatoes cook in the oven while I'm futzing with the beans and scrambled eggs, reducing the stovetop chaos. The beans babysit themselves nicely since they cook at a low simmer, allowing you to give full attention to the tasks requiring a hawk's eye: scrambling eggs and heating the tortillas just so.
A couple tasks can be done a day in advance. Fry the bacon ahead of time if you like (but do save that bacon grease for the potatoes), and assemble your pico de gallo or buy a container from the store (my husband and I like the spicy variety from Trader Joe’s). As for the shredded Mexican cheese blend, it’s ready to go out of the bag, as are the tortillas, which are greatly improved by a brief charring over an open flame.
Serves 4 (two tacos per person)
4 slices of bacon
1 large (3/4 pound) Russet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced (divided)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly chopped)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans (liquid included)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or bacon fat)
6 large eggs
1 cup pico de gallo (store-bought or homemade)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
8 corn tortillas (store-bought or homemade)
Prepare the bacon (1 to 2 days ahead or morning of): Place the strips of bacon in a medium (10-inch) stainless steel or cast iron skillet, making sure not to overlap the slices. Turn the heat on to medium-low, and when the bacon begins to sizzle and render, turn down to low heat. Flip often and cook until well-browned, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. (For step-by-step instructions, see How To Cook Bacon on the Stovetop). Pour the bacon fat into a jar or other heat-proof container. You’ll be using it for the home-fried potatoes. When the bacon has cooled to a temperature that is comfortable for you to touch, use your fingers to break it up into generously sized bits and set aside (or refrigerate for up to 3 days).
Roast the potatoes (morning of serving): Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can use a small toaster oven with a small baking sheet if you are making four servings — if you’ve scaled the recipe up, you’ll need to use a full-sized baking sheet in a standard oven.
Spread the potatoes and half of the diced onion out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle evenly with the pepper, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat. Stir to coat the onions and potatoes evenly, then bake until golden-brown, about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking for even browning.
When the potatoes have finished cooking, sprinkle with the salt and place back in the oven. Turn the oven off — the residual heat will keep the potatoes warm while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
While the home fries are cooking, make the pinto beans: In a medium (2-quart) saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining half of the diced onions and the diced jalapeño and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the oregano and cumin and sauté for another minute, until aromatic. Add the pinto beans, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer on the back of the stove for 30 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit, covered, until ready to serve.
Just before serving, cook the scrambled eggs: Melt the butter in a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet over low heat. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk until whites and yolks are thoroughly blended. Pour into the pan, still on low heat. Cook until the eggs are set but still a bit wet, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the eggs are done, warm the tortillas: Place the tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp tea towel, or use a microwaveable tortilla warmer. Heat the tortillas until steaming-hot and pliable, about 30 seconds. (Alternately, if you have a gas stovetop, you can use tongs to heat the tortillas over an open flame until a bit charred and hot, about 20 seconds on each side.)
Wrap the warmed tortillas in a cloth napkin or clean tea towel and place in a bread basket, or place on a tortilla warmer so they stay flexible and warm while you assemble the tacos.
To assemble the tacos: You can either plate the tacos yourself or bring the toppings to the table and let each person assemble them individually.
Place two warm tortillas side by side on each plate. Onto each tortilla, ladle a quarter-cup each of the scrambled eggs, pinto beans, and potatoes. Sprinkle each tortilla with a tablespoon of crumbled bacon and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Top with a heaping tablespoon of pico de gallo. Serve immediately.
Recipe originally published May 2014.
(Image credits: Coco Morante)