The Recipe Book: A Taste of Purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory, that is. This is the classic Italian peasant breakfast (and hangover cure) that is remarkably simple to make. I first learned of its existence on an episode of Parts Unknown last season, where Nigella Lawson cooked it for Anthony Bourdain. If you can get your timing right, poaching the egg just enough so that the yolk is still runny, there is no excuse not to make this meal on a cold winter’s morning…or after a night of knocking them back.

Whip up a pan of tomato sauce—I did mine in a cast iron skillet. Just a splash of extra virgin olive oil, three cloves of minced garlic, a finely chopped half-onion, pinches of salt and pepper, a not-so-modest spoon of crushed red pepper, and a can (sorry) of tomato sauce. Bring it to a simmer, and then crack your desired number of eggs on top of the sauce. Cover partially for five minutes, remove the lid, sprinkle some Parmesan, or in my case, Pecorino Romano, and serve immediately with crusty Italian bread…or whatever you can find at the store a day after it was ravaged in a snowstorm panic. I also served it with some grilled polenta.

Call me a horrible Italian, but I’m not the biggest fan of red sauce. But this works, mainly because I love bread and polenta, both of which you drag through this zesty gravy. The yolks were runny and made the sauce richer than normal. It was perfect to eat while looking down at a snow-covered landscape in 10 degree temperatures. The only thing I didn’t like is that the eggs were not as visible as I have seen in examples online. Maybe I dropped them in too hard—I don’t know. In any event, the yolks were visible and everything ended up coming out okay. Next time, I will lay the eggs in more gently.

The best purgatory has ever looked.

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