I have eaten lots of shakshuka. The North African dish of stewed tomatoes and poached eggs is as close to the national dish of Israel as it comes. Yes, falafel was marketed well by the Jewish Agency as the food of choice in Israel, but one can find shakshouka on more menus. It is sold at the local shwarma stand, the 24 hour cafe and even the high school kiosk. Shakshouka comforts me when the cold and rainy Jerusalem winter has crept into my bones and it lounges with me during late morning brunch. I have eaten it with goat cheese, with spinach, with merguez sausage and now with bacon.
One of my favorite restaurants in Israel is called Doctor Shakshouka. Hidden among the alleyways of Jaffa, Dr. Shakshouka serves up some tasty medicine. It was the first place I ate shakshouka with meat. And it was my experience there that spawned my own doctorate in shakshouka: Bacon Shakshouka.
In addition to Dr. Shakshouka, the other source for this dish was a recipe offered by Jill Santopietro, who used to work for the New York Times and is now at Chow.com. In a segment called Tiny Kitchen she presented the recipe for Uova al Purgatorio or “eggs in purgatory” which is an Italian version of shakshouka served over polenta.
For my shakshouka I made the ragu first in a pot and then transferred it to a pan. I made the ragu with some grilled tomatoes and peppers and then added onion, canned tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, and a small left over nub of bacon. Here is one recipe for shakshouka to play with. Obviously, if making it with lamb bacon (and kosher), you need to leave out the cheese. I sauteed the onions and garlic then added the grilled tomatoes and peppers which I had cut up and stored. I used one hot pepper, 2 sweet peppers and about 6 tomatoes. Then I added a small can of whole tomatoes which I cut up and half a small carton of tomato paste. Finally, I added the nub of lamb bacon and let it stew for 1.5 hours. This made enough for Yael and I with a bunch of ragu left in the pan (though no more room for eggs).
Once I was ready to eat, I fried of some lamb bacon in a pan and cooked it about 80%. Then I removed the bacon and added the ragu to the bacon fat that had collected in the pan. After a few stirs I added my eggs and covered for a bit. I like my eggs runny so once the whites were firm I added my bacon back to the ragu, sliding some slices under the eggs. I let it sit for another minute and then removed from heat. Shakshouka is served very hot so we waited a few minutes before we dug in. Just like really hot pizza, shakshouka is a great way to burn one’s mouth.