In this version, I make a single serving, a perfect dinner on a cool fall night. It is easily double or tripled and you can make it in either individual pots or one large one. Just make sure the sauce is good–this means tasting it several times as you prepare it–and do not overcook the eggs; the yolks should be hot but still liquid. The shakshouka here is prepared in a small bram, am Egyptian clay pot available at Bram Cookware in Sonoma. To make this dish when tomatoes are not in season, use homemade canned tomatoes or a good brand of commercial diced tomatoes.
Shakshouka – Eggs Baked in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Shakshouka is popular throughout the Middle East and for good reason: It is extraordinarily delicious. You find similar versions in other parts of the Mediterranean, all the way to Spain, where it is common to find sliced chorizo in the sauce. It is typically prepared in a clay pot, often a large one that serves several people.
- Serves 1
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ small yellow onion, cut into small dice
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot Spanish paprika, to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika, to taste
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 to 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and peeled, or 1 cup canned tomatoes
- 1 to 2 Anaheim-type chilies or 1 poblano, seared, peeled, seeded and cut into medium julienne
- 2 farm eggs, at room temperature
- 2 ounces feta cheese, broken into pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro
- Black pepper in a mill
- Hot hearth bread or lightly toasted pita
Put the olive oil into a small sauté pan set over medium heat, add the onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté 2 minutes more, season with salt and stir in the paprikas and cumin.
Hold a peeled tomato in your dominant hand and crush it into the pan; do the same with the other tomato. Stir in the chilies, taste and correct for salt and pepper.
At this point, I prefer to tip the sauce into the clay pot known as a bram, a small one that has been warmed. I then put it into a toaster oven, set the temperature on 300 and then raise it incrementally until it reaches 400 degrees (the slow heating protects the bram). (If you don't have a bram, use another type of small clay or porcelain dish or poach the eggs in the sauce on top of the stove.)
When the sauce is bubbling hot, break one of the eggs into a small bowl, gently tip it into the bram, do the same with the second egg and return it to the oven. When the egg whites seem almost done, set the oven to "broil" and cook 2 minutes more.
Carefully remove the bram, set it on a small wooden cutting board, scatter with feta and either parsley or cilantro, season with several turns of black pepper and enjoy immediately, with hot bread alongside.