- I roasted my own red peppers and poblanos this time around and I think that makes a big difference from buying jarred roasted red peppers. The poblanos were new this time around and I used them instead of jarred hot peppers. They aren't as spicy, but they added a nice flavor.
- I used ground chorizo this time around. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was really wonderful. Every spoonful now had a great mix of chorizo, tomato, peppers, paprika, egg and cilantro. These are a few of my favorite things...
- Instead of serving it with polenta, I made grits this time around. Seemed to fit the low-country SC theme we've got going this week.
- I also sliced an eggplant and fried it up in some olive oil and some of the grease from the cooked chorizo. For Gia, not for me. I can't stand eggplant. But she loves the stew served directly over the cooked eggplant and grits. No accounting for taste. Especially in men. ;)
- No...I still haven't take a picture of the final product. When it's hot and ready, I'm eating. Sorry.
In the spirit of Passover*, I decided that I wanted to make a traditional North African tomato and egg dish called Shakshouka that has become a staple at many Israeli restaurants. I've also seen it spelled Shakshuka and Shakzuka. Either way, it's a really delicious stew-type dish. And I was also inspired by RW, who spoke of a hearty vegetable stew/soup he made. And the fact that we have had a cold and miserable rain falling here in NY for about 3 days now. Stew just seemed like a good idea.
I first came across this dish when perusing the huge menu at the most awesomest, eccentric NYC restaurant ever, Shopsin's. Kenny Shopsin and his crew make every item on their 1,000-strong menu from scratch and I really don't know how they do it. His version of Shakzuka has more sizzling peppers and roasted zucchini than the traditional recipe. I'm not a huge fan of zucchini, so I spied another similar dish called Zackzuka on the menu that opted for chorizo sausage and cilantro instead of zucchini.
That's what I ordered. It was delicious!
So I wanted to make something similar, but I didn't feel like cooking forever or looking at a million recipes. So I took a gander at a traditional recipe, and I...ya know...made it my own. I call it:
- 1 28oz can peeled italian tomatoes in sauce.
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 small onion - diced
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves - diced
- 3 or 4 roasted red peppers - diced
- 8 or 9 small roasted hot peppers (jalepenos will do) - seeded and diced.
- Some roasted zucchini - I'll explain later
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1 large chorizo sausage - sliced thinly
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Add the paprika, salt and tomato paste and stir thoroughly. Here's a tip...don't chince out on the paprika. Buy the good stuff. A good smoked paprika will last you a long time and it adds so much flavor to just about any dish.
Add the full can of peeled tomatoes to the pan. Use a wooden spoon or the like to chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces to speed up the process. Or you don't have to. Whatever you want. Add the roasted red peppers and the hot peppers as well. I found these great roasted and pickled red peppers at the local market. I don't recall what they were, but the heat wasn't overwhelming and they had an intense sweetness that added a lot to the final product. If I find out what they were I will leave it in the comment section. Bring all of this to a slow boil and then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the downtime, take your chorizo sausage and slice it up. 1/4 inch thick slices will do. I used a chorizo that was about the size of a small pepperoni. Most foot markets will have the packet of 3 or 4 smaller chorizos. You can use those too. The chorizo is already cooked, but I thought it would be interesting to quick fry them over a medium flame in another dish before adding to the stew. Gave them a bit of a char that was pleasant.
Add the chorizo to the sauce pan with the rest of your stew. At this point I also added some roasted zucchini that I found at the shop. They were jarred and ready to eat so I didn't want them to break down totally in the stew. I don't know how many I used. I just forked out a bunch of them onto the cutting board and ran a quick knife through them. Dumped it all in the stew.
Then I took went to work on the cilantro. After washing them, I stripped off the leaves until I had a big enough pile. "A big enough pile for what?" you might ask. "A big enough pile to make me happy!" I respond. I then did a quick chop and added it all to the stew. Made sure it all came to a rolling boil and covered it for another five minutes of stewing on low heat.
Finally, I gave the stew one last stir and then cracked four eggs directly on top of the it. That's right...the eggs are gonna poach themselves right in the stew! Yummy! Cover the saucepan and let it cook for around 6-7 minutes, until the eggs are mostly set with the yolks a little runny. You can eyeball. it.
Dish it out into large serving bowls and sop it all up with some pita bread. It should serve make decent-sized servings, You can try serving it with some rice or polenta. Gia loves polenta, so I used that.
It was tangy, hot, sweet, smoky and wonderful. Everything I could have hoped it would have been, and frankly quite a bit more. What's nice about this dish is you can add or subtract anything. Don't want the eggs? Don't add them. Not a fan of zucchini? Ditto. Maybe you like andouille instead of chorizo, or you don't want to add meat at all? Chef's choice.
I'll be making this one again. And again. And again. And again.
Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Gadzooks, that's good food!