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Weekend Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory

This popular Italian American dish from Cook's Country of quivering eggs poached directly in a spicy red sauce is equally as good for a meatless supper as it is for breakfast.

We let the sauce thicken slightly and then take the pan off the heat. Before adding the eggs to the pan one at a time, we use a rubber spatula to clear 2-inch-long wells in the sauce to hold the eggs (exposing the skillet bottom). To evenly fit all eight eggs in the pan, we place seven eggs around the perimeter of the pan and one in the middle. Covering the skillet and cooking the eggs over medium heat helps start setting the whites; then, a flash of enveloping heat from the oven finishes the whites while leaving the yolks silky.

Eggs in Purgatory
Cook's Country

Eggs in Purgatory​
Serves 4

Our preferred brands of canned crushed tomatoes are Tuttorosso and Muir Glen. Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater. This dish should be a little spicy, but if you’re averse to heat, we’ve provided a range for the red pepper flakes. When adding the eggs to the sauce, take care to space them evenly so the whites don’t run together.


8 (3/4-inch-thick) slices rustic Italian bread
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/4 cup grated onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 — 1 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup fresh basil leaves plus 2 tablespoons chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
8 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat broiler. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle first sides with 2 tablespoons oil; flip slices and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Broil until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside and heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in ovensafe 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add onion, tomato paste, pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until rust-colored, about 4 minutes. Add basil leaves and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and bring to gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove skillet from heat and let sit 2 minutes to cool slightly. Crack 1 egg into bowl. Use rubber spatula to clear 2-inch-diameter well in sauce, exposing skillet bottom. Using spatula to hold well open, immediately pour in egg. Repeat with remaining eggs, evenly spacing 7 eggs in total around perimeter of skillet and 1 in center.

4. Season each egg with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, covered, until egg whites are just beginning to set but are still translucent with some watery patches, about 3 minutes. Uncover skillet and transfer to oven. Bake until egg whites are set and no watery patches remain, 4 to 5 minutes for slightly runny yolks or about 6 minutes for soft-cooked yolks, rotating skillet halfway through baking.

5. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped basil and drizzle with extra oil. Serve with toasted bread.

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