Eggs in Purgatory

This post is dedicated to four friends:   one who wanted me to post something “accessible” for once, one who wanted a new dinner idea, one who recommended this dish a year ago, and one who gave me this 12″ cast iron skillet to use against home invaders in the Cleveland area.

Eggs in Purgatory” is actually a non-vegetarian dish of eggs poached in a meaty ragout—-lots of pork product incarnating a thick tomato stew.  Conveniently there’s a Libyan version called Shakshuka which is made of a congregation of plant matter already populating our kitchen (see for yourself below–I got my mise en place except for the cheese and parsley).  I was worried that the end result would taste like Prego.  But the more spirited ingredients forced the tomato into a darker, lustier territory that seeped into the unassuming white of the eggs.  The actual recipe is more like Shakshuka, but “purgatory” sounds so much more…soulful.
Make this in about half an hour, and then serve it as dinner for 3-4 friends or as an appetizer for a larger party.  You can make it as spicy or mild as you like–Deb at Smitten Kitchen seems to think she underdid it on her first try, and I think I hit the upper limit of the average eater.  Whatever the eggs did to deserve this fate, sign me up.

Ingredients (thanks to Smitten Kitchen’s version)

  • 4-5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 green chilis, chopped (you could also use jalapenos, but they’re milder so use more)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers (they can be of any color)
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and then sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cayenne
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheese (I used Manouri, Deb used feta, you can use whatever you like)
  • toast for the eating


Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chilis, onion, and peppers and saute until fragrant and slightly translucent (5 min).  Add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic has taken on some color (3 min?).  Add the spices, stir to toast them for about 30 seconds, then add the tomato and stir to mix.  Set the heat to medium and allow to simmer, stirring occassionally.  Feel free to taste it during the simmering to adjust your spices/salt.  I ended up simmering the sauce for about 20 minutes; it should be of a consistency that you could see yourself scooping into with a piece of bread without watery dripping.  Add a little more water if you think it’s too dry for poaching.  Next, make six divots in the sauce, and carefully crack an egg into each of the divots.  Cover, and allow to cook (5 minutes for a runny yolk, 7-10 minutes for a set yolk).  Turn off the heat and garnish with parsley and cheese.  The best way to serve this is to set it in the middle of the table and allow people to help themselves.


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15 Responses to Eggs in Purgatory

  1. Omri says:

    Anita, that looks DELICIOUS!!!

    For vegetarians, have you heard of an Israeli dish called Shakshuka? There’s a bunch of recipes online, that’s just one. Great dish for this absolutely terrible weather.

  2. brittany says:

    sounds so good! i’ve seen a couple other recipes lately where people are poaching eggs in tomato sauce 🙂 thanks for the recipe!!

    btw, drew g. gave me your blog information

  3. Oooh I’ve seen this before and I’ve wanted to try it! I love unique ways to make breakfast, but I never thought of serving it otherwise, but it makes sense! It sounds kind of weird, eggs in tomatoes, but it looks really good!

    • Anita says:

      Ari is really our egg (and come to think of it, tomato) maven around here, so I was timid about making this kind of contribution. But thanks, I hope you make it!!

  4. Adrie says:

    Thanks again Anita for making that for my birthday- it was *SO* delicious <3

  5. Becca says:

    For the record, I find your dishes plenty accessible, more so than Ari’s with all her Sriacha recipes. However, my pantry of Indian spices is a little better stocked than your average white girl’s.

    But I think I made this about a year ago, and I told my dad about it and he insisted I make it for mother’s day, or an adaptation of it. I think that one was a little more Mexican flavored. It’s a great recipe. And quite frankly, I think it’s easier to poach eggs in tomato sauce than in water, they stay together better and they are a little easier to check the doneness, I think.

    But yay and yum! I think the point of my posted can be summed up as “great minds think alike!”

    • Anita says:

      Haha! The friend who made that comment is always on the move, so I don’t fault her for not having a food processor or coriander. Becca, you should consider starting a blog yourself! The hardest part is naming it, and someone else did that for us 😉

  6. mary novak says:

    Looks yummy Anita….beautiful photos…when I slow down long enough to enjoy the food that I eat, I’m going to make this one. Once again I am in awe of the two amazing women who created this blog. Love you , Ari’s mom

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