Friday, January 21, 2011


Or, Eggs in Purgatory. I chose to title this post Cucurumao because that is the dish’s Sicilian name and I wanted to sound more intelligent than I am. You may call it Eggs in Purgatory if you actually have to tell someone what it is. Luckily, I just have to type it.

Brunch is my favorite meal. I am a happy girl when pancakes, muffins, banana bread, oatmeal with fruit and sugar, or waffles are put in front of me. Yes, my tendency to go directly to the “raise-your-blood-sugar-to-unprecedented-levels” section of an IHop menu is a problem on which I am working, but recently I challenged myself to make a savory brunch dish. And I must say, it was definitely worth it.

This was one of those recipes that I saw and said to myself “I can totally make that!” But then, at step two of the recipe, I began to doubt myself. How long before the sauce is supposed to reduce? (Much longer than the original recipe suggested when I did it on my stove.) How is this not just like tomato sauce? (It isn’t that much different except poached eggs + tomato sauce + Parmesan cheese + toast = substantial yumminess.) When is a poached-in-tomato-sauce-egg done? (About four minutes earlier than when I took mine out.)

So I will let you learn from my mistakes.
Although “mistakes” may be a bit harsh of a word. I will let you learn from my second guessings. Happy Brunch!

Brunch! by Gale Gand (I was a big fan of her show on Food Network back when Food Network was just show after show of one camera focused on someone cooking in a kitchen. I think it was called Sweet Dreams. I also appreciate her use of the exclamation point in her title.)
Serves 3 to 4

2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
One 28-ounce can whole or crushed Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 pinches sugar, to taste (optional – I didn’t use any because I find tomato sauce pretty sweet already)
4 fresh basil leaves, torn
6 large eggs (I used 5.)
Grated Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling
1 loaf crusty Italian bread

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes - if whole, crush them with the back of a spoon. Cook until the mixture is fairly thick, about 20 minutes; then season it with salt and pepper. (This took much longer than I anticipated and I think I could have waited a bit longer for it to thicken even more.)

Taste the tomato sauce – add sugar if you think it should be sweeter. Adding sugar can be used to cut down on the acid of the tomato sauce. (Thanks Mrs. Swallen!) Stir in the basil leaves.

Make six (or five if you are using just five eggs) depressions in the tomato sauce and break one egg into each depression. Baste the eggs with a little tomato sauce. Cover the pan, and cook over medium heat to poach the eggs, about four minutes. (Not eight, like I did. I swore they didn’t look done but the yolks were definitely cooked by the time I cut into them with my fork. Next time it will be four minutes.)

Carefully remove a couple eggs and sauce into a bowl. Top with grated Parmesan and serve with thick slices of hearty bread. The best bite consists of a bit of the egg on the toast smeared with the tomato sauce.

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