Friday, April 30, 2010

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in purgatory II

Is there anything the egg can't do? It makes your cakes tall and fluffy, it makes your custards custardy, and it makes this tomato sauce into dinner. We didn't actually send eggs to the underworld for our meal, we just cooked them in spicy tomato sauce. This dish has roots in the cucina povera tradition of southern Italy, but to me, it's not poor peoples' food, it's just good. There are few things I like more than a runny yolked egg, and when you cut into this one the yolk runs out to enrich the bright, acidic tomato sauce with just enough unctuousness. You could serve it over potatoes, pasta, rice, or polenta if you like, but for a light dinner a piece of toast that you've rubbed with the cut side of a clove of garlic does the trick.

Eggs in Purgatory
Serves 2 (with leftover sauce)

Adam and I like spicy food. Add that to the fact that we're both getting over colds, and you begin to understand why I use a full 1/2 teaspoon of sinus-clearing red pepper flakes plus hot sauce. Only you know how hot is too hot for you, so use 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to start and bump it up from there. It's much easier than drinking a gallon of milk with dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about a cup)
4-5 large cloves of garlic, pressed (cut this to 2 or three if you don't LOVE garlic. This is a lot.)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I buy the kind in a squeezable tube so I can use small measurements like this)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
5 shakes hot sauce (I'm a devotee of Frank's Red Hot) - optional
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs
2 pieces Italian bread, toasted and rubbed with raw garlic (for serving)

Heat the olive oil in a large wide saucepan (one with a lid, you'll want that later) over medium heat and add the onion. Saute for about five minutes until onion is softening, then add the garlic. Lower the heat to medium low if necessary to keep the garlic from burning. Saute until onion is translucent, another minute or two and garlic is just starting to get fragrant. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, stir, and saute another 30 seconds, then add the diced tomatoes. Break up the whole tomatoes with your hands and add those, then add the juice from the can. Stir in the dried marjoram or oregano, and let the whole thing simmer uncovered over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally.

At this point, I set aside 2 cups of the sauce to use on pizza later in the week. If you leave it all in the pan, you will have a lot of sauce. Consider yourself warned.

Crack four eggs into the sauce, nestling each one in a bit if you can. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to poach, adjusting the heat if necessary. My eggs took about 9 minutes to set with a runny yolk over medium low heat (the edges of the sauce were bubbling). Adam left his in for about 12 minutes and his eggs were cooked through with very little ooze left in the yolk.

Serve eggs with sauce along side crusty garlic toast.


  1. i loooooove the colors! this is very similar to a dish made frequently in israel called "shakshuka." it looks delicious. in turkey we poach the eggs in sauteed spinach :-)

  2. I will definitely be trying this! Kind of reminds me a little of shakshuka, which I love.

  3. I've always wanted to try this. Looks amazing and I'm a big spice lover so this looks perfect as is.

  4. Yes, it's a lot like shakshuka! As I understand it, shakshuka has cheese and is eaten with pita, but there are 374 comments on this Smitten Kitchen post on shakshuka full of people being not-always-nice about what it is and where it comes from. Shakshuka is fun to say, but eggs in purgaory is a fun Amelia Bedelia thing to think about :)

  5. That looks like a pretty decent attempt at this recipe. You certainly nailed it with this one. You win my vote for the egg, it can be used in so many ways in so many recipes!

  6. I may or may not have just licked my computer screen.