Eggs in Purgatory

Here’s another recipe linked to my series for Borough Market about different styles of cured meats. The latest post touches on the subject of cured fat, as well as salumi specifics to two regions at the extreme ends of the Italian boot — Alto Adige and Calabria. And it finishes with a recipe for Eggs in Purgatory, which uses one of Calabria’s most celebrated and Britain’s most woke ingredients: ‘nduja. Highly recommended …

These baked eggs are a feisty breakfast, brunch or lunch option, differentiated from the ever-popular Middle Eastern ‘shakshuka’ because of the inclusion of ‘nduja as its base, as well as the top notes that come from fresh basil (instead of parsley or coriander).

Below are alternative ingredients to serve one and two people. Four people (eight eggs) would require a surprisingly large sauté pan and I would suggest splitting between two vessels if you’re feeding that many (or more).

Eggs in Purgatory

For 1

  • 1 small heavy-bottomed sauté pan or skillet, suited to holding 2 eggs
  • 25g nduja
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Light olive oil

For 2

  • 1 medium sauté pan or skillet, suited to holding 2 eggs
  • 40g nduja
  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 15-20 basil leaves
  • 1 heaped teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Light olive oil

As garnish / to accompany

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sourdough or similar, toasted
  • More ‘nduja

Put the sauté pan or skillet over a low heat, add a dash of light olive oil and the nduja. Allow the nduja to warm for 60 seconds and begin to melt (not fry), poking the paste a little and spreading it around the pan while the fat turns from solid to liquid. Add the garlic slices and cook for 90 seconds, softening rather than browning the garlic. Then put the tomatoes in the pan, along with 50ml of water. Increase the heat to medium and place a lid on top, leaving for 10 minutes so that the tomatoes start to release their juices, split and sink down a bit. Stir after 5 or 6 minutes to check the tomatoes are boiling, not burning, and squash them with a fork to encourage their collapse.

After that time remove the lid and let the tomatoes cook for 5 minutes more, reducing and thickening a little. Add the sugar, vinegar and a heavy pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, then stir half the basil leaves in.

Once the basil leaves have wilted, create 2 (or 4) areas for the eggs to be cooked in, by pushing the remnants of the tomatoes around. Crack the eggs in and put the lid back on top. Cook for 3 minutes.

Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and a good glug of peppery olive oil, and serve with toast spread with ‘nduja (for those who like things hot).