Eggs in Purgatory

Uova in purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

In Campania, secondi piatti by Frank32 Comments

A perfect light lunch or dinner for those times when you don’t feel like making anything too complicated, these Neapolitan ‘eggs in purgatory‘ take perhaps 25 minutes and practically make themselves.

Ingredients

For 2 people

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small (14 oz.) can of tomatoes (or passata di pomodoro)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 basil leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Optional:

  • A small pinch of red pepper flakes, or
  • A spoonful of grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Make a soffritto by gently sweating the onion in a fairly generous amount of olive oil, in a shallow terracotta tiella (see photo) or a braiser. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the garlic, mix and let it simmer for just a few moments. (Add the red pepper flakes now, if using.)

Now take a food mill and place it over the pot, then pass the canned tomatoes through the mill into the pot. (If using the passata, just add it to the soffritto.) Add the basil leaf and let the tomatoes simmer, still over gentle heat, for about 10-15 minutes, until they have cooked down a bit and formed a sauce. 

Now crack open your eggs, one by one, and gingerly drop them into the tomato sauce. (I usually open the eggs into a small bowl or cup and then slide the egg into the sauce. This helps avoid breaking the yolk and, if it does break, you can discard it before it’s in the sauce.) Cover the pan and continue simmering the eggs in the sauce until the whites are set and the yolk has ‘glazed over’ but are still soft inside.

Serve your Eggs in Purgatory immediately with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Notes

You will find rather more elaborate versions of this dish around, some that add olives and other flavors for a puttanesca-like sauce, others that add peppers or mushrooms or other vegetables. But this is the original and, to my mind, best way to make it. A few red pepper flakes—just a small pinch for a very subtle ‘kick’—is as much of a variation as I like. If you like you can top the dish with a bit of grated parmigiano (in which case, best to omit the red pepper).

According to Jeanne Caròla Francesconi, the doyenne of Neapolitan cookery, the eccentric name of this dish come from the notion that the eggs floating in the red sauce look like so many souls dancing among the flames of Purgatory. Eggs in Purgatory also go by the more prosaic name of uova al pomodoro, or eggs in tomato sauce.

Uova in purgatorio (Eggs “in Purgatory”)

Total Time: 30 minutes

Uova in purgatorio (Eggs “in Purgatory”)

Ingredients

  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1 small (14 oz.) can of tomatoes (or passata di pomodoro)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 basil leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional:
  • A small pinch of red pepper flakes, or
  • A spoonful of grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Make a soffritto by gently sweating the onion in a fairly generous amount of olive oil, in a shallow terracotta tiella (see photo) or a braiser. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the garlic, mix and let it simmer for just a few moments. (Add the red pepper flakes now, if using.)
  2. Now take a food mill and place it over the pot, then pass the canned tomatoes through the mill into the pot. (If using the passata, just add it to the soffritto.) Add the basil leaf and let the tomatoes simmer, still over gentle heat, for about 10-15 minutes, until they have cooked down a bit and formed a sauce.
  3. Now crack open your eggs, one by one, and gingerly drop them into the tomato sauce. (I usually open the eggs into a small bowl or cup and then slide the egg into the sauce. This helps avoid breaking the yolk and, if it does break, you can discard it before it's in the sauce.) Cover the pan and continue simmering the eggs in the sauce until the whites are set and the yolk has 'glazed over' but are still soft inside.
  4. Serve immediately with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
http://memoriediangelina.com/2011/04/08/uova-in-purgatorio/

Comments

  1. Pingback: Uova in Purgatorio – Master of my plate

  2. This was “Strike Food”
    When my father was on strike in the ship yards, mom would find the least expensive way to feed the family, hence strike food, I haven’t made this in 40+ years. Time to try it again… Thanks for the memories…..Joe

  3. Thanks for your comment @milnews.ca! Peas do sound like a lovely variation on the theme. 🙂

  4. My mom used to do this dish with fresh peas cooked in the sauce before adding the eggs. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  5. @Rachel: LOL! Reminds of when I realized that stuffoli, which we called 'honey balls' were not my grandmother's private recipe!

    @marjenann: Always happy to bring back fond memories…

    @HS Consultants: Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Wow!! This really brings back memories. When my dad was on patrol and my mom and I had dinner alone, I often requested this delicious dish!!

  7. Wow!! This really brings back memories. When my dad was on patrol and my mom and I had dinner alone, I often requested this delicious dish!!

  8. My college boyfriend was half-Italian & was extremely distraught when he found out this wasn't a recipe strictly owned by his family–His dad used to make it for us whenever we'd visit his folks on weekend trips. I don't think I've had it in years, but I should give it a try again!

  9. @Casalbordino: I'll have to try it that way soon—sounds delicious!

    @Emily and @Trix: Well, as long as they leave me on a slow simmer,I'd be fine, too, LOL!

    @I Sicilian: Sadly, I haven't had that experience since Angelina passed away… 🙁

    @lostpastremembered: Thanks for stopping by. And, yes, I like it spicy, too!

    @Pola: What an honor, thank you!!!

    @The Old Geezer: Thanks for stopping by and Happy Easter to you, too!

    @Zen Chef: Thanks, chef! And by the way, I'm baking bread this weekend, so come on by!

    @Nina: Thanks for visiting! Permission appreciated…:)

  10. I like all kinds of processed eggs. practical and certainly nutritious. the recipe is ok, permission to try it in my kitchen

  11. Perfect, perfect, perfect food.
    Gosh, you're making me hungry.
    I'll take a crusty loaf with this, please.

  12. Greetings from Southern California

    I am your newest follower.
    I invite you to visit and follow my blog.

    God bless and have a nice Easter 🙂

    ~Ron

  13. I absolutely love the imagery evoked by the name. I would happily spend in eternity in purgatory if that meant feasting on these fine eggs ; )

  14. I had this in Italy long ago… I admit completely that I only ordered it because of the name but then I thought it was wonderful… the spicier the better, and the color is too gorgeous! I really want to get one of those terra cotta pans… a wonderful cooking style. Thanks for the note on Artusi… didn't know that!

  15. This is one of my favorite lazy day dishes. I would love to eat at your house. You cook the way I eat. But it's always better when someone else does the cooking and it's exactly the way you like it! Now, how many times does that happen to you? Not to often for me!

  16. If this is a reflection of true purgatory, I may be very happy to burn off a few days there 😉

    Beautiful dish, as always, Frank!

  17. We call it “Cipollata”. In the summer when we have an abundance of onions and peppers in the garden, we fry them, add fresh tomatoes and jar it. In the winter, open a jar of cipollata and throw in the eggs. One of my favorite dishes.

  18. Thanks, all, for your lovely comments!

    @Miriam: Absolutely, in a dish this simple best quality ingredients are a must.

    @Beth: I'll have to look into shakshuka….

    @Simona: I'll check out your blog—interested to know how your family makes it!

    @Ruth: I'm sure that was just how it happened, lol!

  19. Love the romanticism behind the name of this dish. Can just imagine the scene-an Iatlian household and all that is left for lunch is some fresh eggs and tomatoes. Mamma tries to be creative only for son to come along, look at the dish and come up with that name in a spur of inspiration lol Again simplicity at its best. Runny yolk mixed in with slighly sweet tomato sauce with a hint of basil. I did make a similar version once when in Italy, only I added some fresh peas for texture and served it with fresh ciabatta. Must say it did go down quite well too. Only didnt sound as romantic 🙂

  20. Love this recipe! We make something similar but add green beans and sometimes hot dogs! I agree with Proud Italian Cook, some crusty bread is great!

  21. Yes, amazingly simple and effective, you just need good ingredients, right? I love the name of the dish 😉

  22. I didn't have the energy to make more than an egg for dinner tonight, but sadly, there was no purgatory – only the egg. It would have been heavenly with the sauce.

  23. Simple is delicious. These eggs have woken me up and lulled me to sleep. And you have to love the name of the recipe.

  24. I love eggs cooked in a sauce. If I did not already have dinner planned for tonight, I would have loved to have this. Perfect for Lent or anytime.

  25. I love eggs cooked in a sauce. If I did not already have dinner planned for tonight, I would have loved to have this. Perfect for Lent or anytime.

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