Wednesday, May 10, 2017


It has been several years now that I have wanted to poach eggs the North African way. Onions and hot peppers are sauteed, tomatoes are added, the sauce simmered for a while, then eggs are cracked into 'hell' as Batali refers to this method. Having a surplus of home-made enchilada sauce and an abundant leek harvest, I realised I could substitute those for tomatoes, hot peppers, and onions.

A meal in a skillet is so appealing

Leeks were sowed last June in pots, and in the following September when their thickness approached the size of a pencil they were transplanted into the ground. Developing roots, they overwintered without developing much green growth since the amount of daylight was significantly diminishing. By February, they showed signs of life.

When transplanted, the young leeks were buried in soil up to the first leaves to develop a blanched bulb.

Since leeks are biennial, meaning they flower and set seed the second year, some flower stalks already have made an appearance. All their energy will go now into producing the next generation. As our leeks will not get any larger, it's time to harvest.

Serves two. Ingredients are in bold. Canned enchilada sauce can be used, but it's simple to make your own. Stir one tablespoon of flour into one tablespoon of warmed oil in a pot on the stove. Add one tablespoon or less/more per preference of chili spice. Stir for a minute or two till toasty and fragrant. Pour in 237 ml (one American cup/8 fluid oz/16 T) of broth which can be either veggie or meat; I used a combo of chicken and beef. Stir in five tablespoons of tomato paste. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Salt to taste. Thinly slice a large, trimmed, well-washed (split one side almost to the root end, place under running water while splaying out the leaves) leek. Chop and saute in a tablespoon or so of butter (which I used) or olive oil for about ten minutes until softened.

Stir in the enchilada sauce. Let simmer for about five minutes.

Plop several teaspoons of crème fraîche (after topping our enchiladas, there was a bit left over) onto the shakshuka. Lace it through the sauce with the spoon. 

Crack four eggs into the skillet.

Cover and let simmer for ten minutes for medium doneness, less or more per preference. Gently touching the yolk with the flat of a wooden spoon will give some indication of its state: quivering, it's mostly liquid, if jiggly then more like jelly, if non-responsive, the yolks are cooked through and through.

Crusty Italian/French or pliable pitta bread would be wonderful for sopping up the sauce. Chiffonade of basil or parsley sprigs make an attractive garnish as green is a colour complement for red. My variation is probably somewhat richer than the usual what with the butter and crème fraîche, but my, was it good.

I love eggs. And I adore this preparation! Easy, delicious, and all in one pan.

À la prochaine!


Serious Eats' approach to Shakshuka which suggests olives, artichoke hearts, and feta as possible additions among others while providing much culinary/historical information/vids. Article penned by the genial chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt.

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