Eggs in Purgatory, called in Italian “Uova in Purgatorio”, is a simple and tasty recipe originally from Naples and then popular into several Italian regions. The eggs are poached into a simple tomato, garlic, and basil sauce until the whites are well done and the yolks are still creamy: delicious!
- 4 eggs
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes (800 g)1/2 yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 leaves basil
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (alternatively, Pecorino or Provolone)
- to taste table salt
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A POOR RECIPE BECOME A NATIONAL DISH
In origin, Eggs in Purgatory was considered one of the cheapest ways to introduce proteins in the poor people’s diet.
Furthermore, this recipe is a delicious way to serve the leftovers: often, the eggs are cooked in the sauce prepared to toss the pasta.
For this, even if commonly the Eggs in Purgatory sauce is a simple garlic, onion, and tomato mixture, the eggs are also prepared with the Neapolitan ragù.
Because of the simplicity of this tasty dish, the Uova in Purgatorio has quickly spread in the rest of the country. This recipe becomes very popular, as much that only a few people are aware of their Neapolitan origin.
ORIGIN OF EGGS IN PURGATORY
The Eggs in Purgatory originally from Naples and called in Italian Uova in Purgatorio and Ova’ ‘mpriatorio in the Neapolitan dialect.
The origin of the name is ancient and curious. The most accredited legend tells of Death, Souls, and Miracles.
Starting from the XVII Century in Naples were among the Catholic believers was popular the Cult of the Souls of Purgatory.
This particular Cult was explained to the people by paintings and frescos, often representing souls saved from the flames of the Purgatory.
Eggs in Purgatory is the recipe that was created to represent and honor the Cult even on the Neapolitan tables.
The white eggs are like the souls saved from the tomato sauce that symbolize the flames!
THE CULT OF THE SOULS OF THE PURGATORY
After the plague of 1656, the Cult of the Soul of the Purgatory took hold among the people: particularly in the poorest and most hit from the plague neighborhoods of Naples.
In that period, death and desperation where daily problems for the Neapolitan people. It was believed that praying and taking care of the mortal remains of unnamed dead, was a way to obtain clemency and miracles in return.
The worshippers materially use to clean the skulls and brought presents placed around the bones. The most important example still accessible in Naples is the Fontanelle Cemetery, reopened to the public in 2010.
This huge charnel house is a former cave that collected in the centuries the remains of more than 30.000 dead. If you are not scared about things like this, it is an interesting and critical site to understand the history and the mysticism of Naples.
SHAKSHUKA VS EGG IN PURGATORY
Thinking to a dish similar to the Eggs in Purgatory, most likely, the first recipe that springs to mind is the Shakshuka. Indeed, the Italian Uova in Purgatorio can be considered a relative of the Middle Eastern recipe, more simple into ingredients and preparation.
EGGS IN PURGATORY VARIATIONS
The basic recipe of the Uova in Purgatorio is just tomato sauce and eggs. Fresh basil and seasoned cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino are introduced more recently, but they can be considered traditional.
As I said, the eggs are traditionally prepared with the leftover sauce of the pasta, so it is not rare to find a variation made with Neapolitan ragù.
Another typical variation includes the chili pepper instead of the black pepper.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
TOMATO SAUCE – The tomato sauce can be prepared most easily with garlic and fresh basil, or enriched with onions. Depending on the season, you can opt for ripe tomatoes (here my recipe) or a prime quality can of crushed tomatoes.
BREAKING THE EGGS – to prepare the Uova in Purgatorio to perfection, it is critical do not break the yolks. So, I suggest you crack the eggs one at a time in a little bowl, then let the egg glide gently into the sauce.
CHEESE – probably the first recipe of Eggs in Purgatory did not require cheese, but nowadays, it is considered a traditional ingredient. Commonly the dish is finished with a generous grate of Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino. Another interesting variation requires a thin slice Provolone over the eggs, just the time to melt the cheese.
OVEN ROASTED VARIATION – Once added the eggs into the pan, some chefs prefer to finish the cooking into the oven. This will make the sauce thicker but is suggested only if you prefer your eggs well done, yolks included.
ONIONS AND GARLIC SOFFRITTO
EGGS IN PURGATORY
FINISHING AND SERVING
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 237Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 187mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 4gSugar 10gProtein 10g
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