Breakfast at Natalie’s: Natalie Wood’s Huevos Rancheros

Natalie Wood

I’m a Southern California girl, born and bred. And lemme tell ya: You can take the girl out of SoCal, but you can’t take the SoCal out of the girl. After having lived everywhere from London to Atlanta, I can vouch for this personally. There are still certain things that will always ignite a flame of unwieldy passion for my homeland. One of them? Avocados. Another? Disneyland. And of course: In-N-Out.

But perhaps the biggest trigger for this “they-do-it-better-in-L.A.” patriotism: Huevos Rancheros.

These. Are. Critical. To. Life.

Now. Natalie Wood was also a California girl. Born in San Francisco, she was a wee little tyke when the family moved to Los Angeles. A child actress from the age of four, she was largely schooled on the set, but graduated from Van Nuys High School (where she was once snubbed by a fellow classmate and future friend and co-star, Robert Redford), and later studied English literature at UCLA where she would go on to donate Meso-American antiquities the school.

She’s also pretty much the best thing about every movie she’s in (who else can steal a scene from the likes of John Wayne), and, my god, she’s downright intoxicating to look at.

I mean … how is this even legal.



circa 1961
circa 1961

Like, even her overgrown ’70s glasses look was totally on-point.


And: Natalie Wood is the hoop earring goddess:


Also, apparently: she was one hell of a cook.

Recently, when I found out that Natalie Wood’s signature recipe was “Huevos Rancheros”? My SoCal heart just about burst with joy and decided to try it out for another entry to our Retro Kitchen. So take a fashion cue from Natalie and put on your favorite apron (see below) and switch on your favorite Natalie Wood movie and get cookin’! Although…you probably don’t want to cook to a movie like Splendor in the Grass. Or Rebel Without a Cause. Or Gypsy. Or … you know what? West Side Story. Switch on West Side Story and break out your frying pan.

Natalie cooking up a batch of her "famous" huevos rancheros.
Natalie cooking up a batch of her “famous” huevos rancheros.



4 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 serrano pepper, or any chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (optional)
1 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 eggs
1 tablespoon butter

Gonna admit: this ain’t your everyday huevos rancheros. It is extremely simple, omitting certain staples like beans (black or refried) or even cilantro, opting instead for a rather ambitious tomato sauce which calls for serrano peppers … and marjoram.

Game on, Natalie. Game. On.

If you’ve ever made huevos rancheros before you know this is a pretty straightforward recipe. It’s perfect for weekend breakfasts for a hungry family because it can be whipped up in about 20-30 minutes, total.

First, you’re going to go ahead and prep your spices, which are the key to this recipe: mashed garlic, minced marjoram, chopped chile pepper, and half a teaspoon of chile powder.

Marjoram was a spice I wasn’t familiar with, but is available at most Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Confession: I … kinda overdid it on the spices, not trusting Natalie’s original ingredients, and … definitely paid for it.  So please, take a lesson from my esophagus: DO. NOT. IMPROVISE. THIS. RECIPE.


Also, Natalie’s recipe gives you the option of using freshly chopped tomatoes or canned tomato sauce for the base. Um … fresh chopped tomatoes, please.

And awwww, ain’t this lil’ guy cute? Not a Serrano–the store was fresh out– but another chile pepper who kinda sorta looks like Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland…

… except without the Hookah ….


OK, next. Pour in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (do NOT sub for any other oil if you know what’s good for your smoke detector), turn on high and fry your tortillas. Natalie’s original recipe didn’t specify what kind of tortilla, but … c’mon. Huevos rancheros gotta be corn. (I used white corn.) Pro tip: if you’re not sure when to plop in the tortillas, pour a drop of water into the pan. If it pops, the oil is ready. After tortillas are fried, drain them on a paper towel.


Keep that oil hot coz now it’s time the goods.

Add the garlic, marjoram, chopped chili, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.


Simmer the mixture for a good 5-6 minutes until you start to smell heaven’s breath itself tease your tastebuds. Or, rather, until the sauce thickens a bit. Whichever happens first.

Next, the egg. We like ’em kinda runny in our house, so add a dollop of butter to a small frying pan and fry the egg over easy-to-over medium. (You can also poach the egg, if you like, in the tomato sauce … but I prefer it cooked separate. Your call.)


To serve, simply slip the egg onto your tortilla and generously top with the tomato mixture. That’s it! You can rightfully now add the title “Huevos Rancheros Goddess” to Miss Wood’s list of endless attributes.

Bon Appetit!


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