09 May 2010
Back when my siblings and I were still pretty young, we'd serve Mom breakfast in bed. To us, the idea of breakfast in bed seemed exotically luxurious, and we wanted to indulge our mother with the best of the best, of course! I remember my brother making French toast one year, and there were a number of years when I made heart-shaped cranberry scones for this ritual meal. But in reality, I think it was always awkward for our energetic Mom to be confined to bed nibbling breakfast from a tray while the rest of us sat ranged about her on the bed. These days, much to everyone's benefit, we enjoy a more civilized meal around the table.
A funny name, a delicious dish. The softly-cooked eggs, poached in little wells made in the sauce, are an amazing counterpoint of creamy flavor and texture against the backdrop of the chunky, savory sauce. With a little sprinkle of sea salt on top (and a little Parmigiano if you're feeling cheesy), this is a Mediterranean brunch you will absolutely love! It's flavorful and satisfying, and it won't weigh on you after the meal is over. (Can the same be said of Eggs Benedict?)
What makes me even more excited about Uova al Purgatorio is that most of the preparation work can be finished ahead of time. You can make the entire sauce the day before (in fact, I think it actually develops a richer flavor if it's made in advance and then reheated), which means this is an easy meal to serve when you're entertaining or if you simply want a relaxing brunch on your own!
While the original recipe (from Bon Appetit) suggests serving the dish family-style, I had a lot of fun plating the servings up individually and garnishing each plate with bunches of fresh thyme from my garden, which I totally recommend for a little extra wow-factor. You'll also want to serve this with plenty of ciabatta bread (or other rustic loaf) to sop up the delicious juices that run out from the sauce!
Uova al Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Sea salt, to taste
10 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup tomato puree
8 oz. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons drained capers
8 large eggs
Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
Ciabatta bread or other crusty bread
Sprigs of fresh thyme, optional
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, chopped thyme, and crushed red pepper; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt and sauté until onion is tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add artichokes, garlic, diced tomatoes with juice, and tomato puree and gently stir to combine. Bring to boil, then reduce heat; cover skillet and simmer 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes in small saucepan of boiling salted water just until tender. Drain. Add potatoes and capers to tomato-artichoke sauce; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Tomato-artichoke sauce can be made ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm sauce before continuing.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour tomato-artichoke sauce into a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Using back of spoon, make 8 evenly-spaced indentations in sauce for holding eggs. Crack 1 egg into each indentation in sauce (some of eggs may run together slightly in spots). Bake until egg whites and yolks are softly set, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the starting temperature of the eggs.
Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano and plenty of ciabatta bread. If plating individual portions, garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
Posted by erica at 6:38 PM