Friday, 20 February 2015

Eggs in Purgatory

I'm calling for certain quantities of certain ingredients here, and they should work just fine - why not - but this is the kind of dish that is very flexible. Use shallots instead of onion; use chopped or diced tomatoes thickened with dry tomatoes or tomato paste; add mushrooms or not, a little celery or carrot even; spice it with dried chile flakes, or your favourite hot sauce, or just use a little Hungarian paprika and keep your purgatory on the mild side. Cook it a little thicker or a little thinner, according to your preference and available tomato products. Usually this is cooked on the stove-top, but once the eggs are dropped in, it could go into a preheated 375°F oven and bake until the eggs are set to your liking; probably 10 to 15 minutes.

North Americans first came to know this dish as Uova in Purgatorio; an Italian dish. The Spaniards make Huevos en Purgatorio, and recently versions have been popular under the name of Shakshouka; a Tunisian (or Algerian, or Moroccan, or Libyan, or Egyptian) dish that has emigrated to Israel. In Turkey, they make Menemen, which is heavy on the peppers, and the eggs may be scrambled, but is basically this dish. In other words, it is popular all around the Mediterranean. The question of who invented it first (the Italians and Tunisians are going head to head) is no doubt the subject of a great deal of enjoyable bickering, if you happen to enjoy bickering. Personally I will stick to cooking it.Yum.

2 to 4 servings
40 minutes prep time

Eggs in Purgatory, also known as Uova in Purgatorio, Huevos en Purgatorio, and Shakshouka

1 medium onion
1/2 large red or green pepper
a few button mushrooms, optional
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon flaked red chile (Aleppo pepper)
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
4 to 6 large eggs

Peel and chop the onion. Trim and dice the pepper. Clean and quarter the mushrooms, if using. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion, pepper, and mushrooms until soft and fairly reduced in volume, stirring frequently. They should not really brown.

Add the garlic, red chile flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper, and mix; cook for another minute or two then add the tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Break in the eggs, keeping each in it's own little spot as much as you can. It helps to break them quite close to the surface.

Cook the eggs until done to  your liking; probably 6 to 14 minutes. Yeah, yeah; I know. The thing is though, much will depend on how hot you have them simmering, and whether you like them quite runny as I do, or petrified very firm like Mr. Ferdzy does.  I find it also useful to have a lid to put over them as they cook; this helps them cook from the top as well as the bottom. Check regularly to make sure they are simmering steadily rather than boiling too hard. If, like Mr. Ferdzy, you like your eggs well done it makes sense to turn them at some point, although they will not be as attractive that way. That is the price you pay for killing your eggs though.

When the are ready, serve them on toast, polenta, rice, noodles, hashed potatoes, or even a naked plate, although personally I think they are best on something... polenta or toast for me, depending on whether I am in a soft or crunchy mood.

Last year at this time I made Date & Banana Loaf.

1 comment:

Marnie said...

Haha, I'll have mine petrified too, please!