Shakshuka aka Tel Aviv Rancheros aka An Anti-Hangover
I need to make this, poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce, more often I guess, because as someone who really likes hugs but doesn’t like to initiate them (What if I do it wrong? WHAT IF I’M REALLY A CREEP AND EVERYONE HAS BEEN TOO POLITE TO TELL ME??? Whatever, I’m sure there’s something wrong with you, too.) this dish sure does bring them in.
How solid gold is shakshuka you ask? I once made it out of town on vacation for a casual dinner party (everyone ate it on porch and drank Tecate so does it still count as a dinner party?) for mostly strangers, and yes, people got seconds, I got hugs and shots of bourbon. It makes every one’s insides feel all warm and happy, but it’s not heavy enough to induce a nap/glazed eye marathon on the couch to St. Elsewhere.
(PS: Variations of Shakshuka are found all over the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa. If you say it’s an Israli dish, for pretty obvious reasons, it gets some folks backs up. I’ve heard it’s Tunisian, Libyan, Persian, etc. It’s a very basic dish using good ingredients that historically go fantastic together. I use jalapeno peppers in mine, so let’s just say this one is Texasfied and leave it at that.)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 diced medium yellow onion
3 diced jalapeno peppers (you can a handful of Anaheims instead or if you’re a real wuss/making this for a picky, screamy kid like I was, a regular green pepper is fine.)
6 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced depending on if you forgot to prep in advance or not
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Cayenne powder to taste (optional)
1 28oz can of no-salt whole tomatoes
Optional but strongly recommended toppings:
Crumbled feta cheese
Seriously, you need to prep for this one, make sure it’s all chopped up. Get your onions, jalapenos and garlic all in nice bits and put them in separate bowels. You’re welcome.
Heat olive oil in a large skillit until it’s not so viscousy. Put in chopped onions and jalpenos and move ‘em around with your spatula until the onions are golden and soft. Now put in garlic and wait for the same.
Add spices, sort of to my suggestions and sort of to taste. I have a habit of tossing whatever in, but don’t over-do it on the cumin, okay? Cumin is the very definition of ‘overpowering.’
Open can of tomatoes. I like to squish each one with my hand and put it in the skillet (what? I washed them!) but some people think that is “fucking disgusting” and prefer to give it a few pulses in a food processor. Hey brah, it’s your extra clean-up. Put half a cup of water in there and let it all cook together for 20 minutes with occasional stir.
While the sauce is cooking, and you’re just sitting there thinking “Is 20 minutes enough time to put away laundry? I don’t thiiink so! Oh, darn!” might I suggest you set your oven temp to as low as it can go and put in the pita to warm? Okay, great! Also, maybe chop that parsley, as clearly you won’t be getting around to sock sorting at this rate.
Once the tomato sauce is ready (I’m assuming you’ve spoon tested a few times and have adjusted spices to your particular needs, right? ::Looks other way::), crack those eggs in there and let it poach on top.
::A FEW WORDS ABOUT POACHING::
I am not great/patient about this, but here are a few things that have worked for me in the past:
The sauce shouldn’t be simmering, it should be just about to simmer, knowhattimean? You’ll feel it in your bones. If it’s too hot, the center will cook too quickly.
Break the egg in a small dish first and then slide that into the sauce.
Once in the sauce, swirl the egg white with a rubber spatula over and around the yolk, encompassing it.
::END OF EGG POACHING NOTES::
Or let your neurosis go and just let it cook on top of the liquid for five minutes.
Once eggs look done to you, scoop up a few with a large measuring cup with a bunch of sauce and pour it in a bowl. Throw some hot slices of pita in there, garnish with feta and parsley. If you still have sauce left over or doubled the recipe for company, you can just plop some more eggs in until you run out. Send me stories about all the memories you made throwing a dinner party with shakshuka and a few liters of wine.
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