Monday, June 21, 2010

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs are dropped into a bed of fiery tomato sauce, made from fresh tomatoes paired with chunky Rotel and enhanced with bacon, onion and sweet bell peppers, and then passed in the oven to set, topped with cheese and served over cheese grits.

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory is one of those recipes that I consider to be a lost classic. You don't hear about them much anymore, though thanks to us bloggers, they seem to be making a resurgence in the past couple of years. I see folks doing it all the time, but I have never been one to put ketchup on eggs, though I do love them with salsa, especially in a breakfast wrap. I absolutely adore these Eggs in Purgatory though, done up in a bed of thick and spicy creole tomato sauce. They are just delicious!

Called Eggs in Purgatory because the eggs rest on top of a bed of fiery tomato sauce, just about every country in the world seems to have some version of this dish. Hard to tell where it actually originated, but no matter. They are mighty fine and a great breakfast, brunch, or supper meal anytime.

Now, before we start... don't go gettin' all up in arms because I am cooking tomatoes in a cast iron skillet. I cook pretty much everything in my cast iron. In my opinion, if you have well seasoned cast iron - and you start off with a fat of some kind {that is a key when cooking with cast iron to me} - and you don't use the skillet as a storage container for the tomato dish, it's perfectly fine. Not only that, but according to author and nutritionist, Cynthia Sass, tomato sauce, when cooked in a cast iron skillet, has nine times more body beneficial iron in it. One recent study with women who were not deficient in iron, found that when they increased their dietary iron they had a 50% less reduction in fatigue and more energy. Feel free to use a heavy, stainless skillet or any skillet that can go from stove-top to oven, if the thought of this strikes fear in your mind though!

You start off with a bit of bacon. That's good already!  Then you'll need to pluck a couple of ripe tomatoes out of your garden and get the skins off of them. That method of boiling is the traditional old fashioned way, but I have to tell y'all - I discovered the soft skin peelers and let me tell you, there's nothing easier. You really should get one!

Chop up some onion and green bell pepper and add that to the bacon.

Oops, forgot to do the tomato paste - you'll next want to brown that in with the bacon, onions and bell pepper and cook for about 3 minutes.  Then, add the chopped fresh tomato and Rotel tomatoes. 

Let that simmer on medium low for 30 minutes until it has reduced and thickened. While that is cooking, fix some garlic cheese grits.   Make four wells in the skillet and drop an egg into each one.

Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper and using potholders, very carefully transfer the entire skillet to a preheated 325 degree oven. Let it bake for about 10 minutes or until the yolks are set where you like them.  Carefully remove the skillet and sprinkle the eggs with a bit of shredded cheese, if you like. Return to the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Using a large spoon, scoop out an egg with some of the sauce and place the egg onto a bed of cheese grits. Grab a thick slice of buttery toast and devour.

Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 40 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: 4 servings

  • Garlic cheese grits (click for recipe)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and chopped (may substitute canned, diced tomatoes)
  • 1 can of chunky Rotel tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Shredded cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut up the bacon into a cast iron skillet and cook until just about crisp. Remove and set aside, reserving the bacon drippings. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over medium heat until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped fresh tomato and the Rotel. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Make a batch of cheese grits while the tomatoes are simmering and hold them over low, stirring occasionally.

Using a spoon, make 4 wells in the sauce and crack one egg into each well and sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper. Using pot holders, carefully transfer the entire skillet into the preheated oven. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until yolk is set as desired. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, if desired, and return to the oven just until cheese is melted.

Serve over hot cheese grits and with thick crunchy, buttery toast.

Cook's Note: Two (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained, may be substituted for the fresh tomatoes. If you prefer this on the milder side, omit the Rotel and substitute an additional tomato or can.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on June 21, 2010
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