Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eggs in purgatory, or shakshuka

Interesting dish -- seems there are versions of this throughout the Mediterranean -- Italy, Israel, North Africa, and I'd imagine the Spanish, Greeks, and French do it, too. 

Italians call this "eggs in purgatory," though why is unclear.  This dish is pure heaven, especially if you make the tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes in the height of summer. 

First, a simple, spicy tomato sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, crushed lightly with your hands
Salt & pepper
1 tsp thyme

In a skillet, warm the olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, and saute a few minutes until the onion is translucent and beginning to color.  Season with salt and pepper  Add the hot pepper flakes. 

Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat, add thyme, and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. 

Crack a few eggs into the sauce while it is simmering over a low flame, and let them cook gently for about 4 minutes.  You're essentially poaching eggs in a tomato sauce rather than water.

Serve immediately in wide soup plates, with toasted French or sourdough bread that has been rubbed with a raw garlic clove, and drizzled with olive oil.

 Eggs poaching in spicy tomato sauce.

You could clearly do this with other sauces -- a vegetable ragout like ratatouille would be great, or just a simple stew of yellow summer squash and fresh tomatoes.  Adding olives or capers to the tomato sauce would be an excellent choice, too.  If you had some grated pecorino or parmigiano, please do sprinkle some on top. 

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