I dream of one day owning a house, not too big, not too small, somewhere in the middle. This house would be in a quiet town, but a town that’s not too far away from a city so that adventure is just a short drive away. Said house would of course come equipped with a large yard. A huge green space filled with trees and flowers and gardens, bursting with fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs. There would be little nooks and hidden spots throughout this lush environment perfect for reading a book on a sunny spring morning, having a romantic dinner outdoors under string lights, a spot for a campfire to toast s’mores and enjoy some drinks with friends on a steamy summer night and, of course, a spot where I can have friends and family come over to enjoy an outdoor brunch. This oasis sounds massive and given my penchant for killing hard-to-kill plants, I would probably need to hire a small staff. So maybe just a porch or small patio with a teeny tiny garden area for a few plants would be sufficient. Really, I just want an outdoor space for entertaining and private outdoor retreats. That’s all. An ocean view would be nice. I’ve been spoiled by watching Ina Garten’s life for years on television. Haven’t we all?
This dream all boils down to one thought: outdoor entertaining. Having lived in apartments without yards or porches for the last twelve years or so, my yearning for this has only grown more and more. And here it is, mid spring in New England. The low temperature is now regularly at 55 degrees. I now have Sundays off as well. All of these are making me want to have a brunch. But currently, my roommates & I have a table but no chairs. We also have no outdoor space. Because when the weather is this nice, you WANT to be outside. Because you know that in a few weeks, it will become unbearable. The humidity. The glaring sun. It makes the already hot 85 degrees feel like a horrific 95. And let’s not even talk about when you have that inevitable week of 95+ temps and ridiculous humidity that makes you feel like you also chose the wrong chalice and you skin and flesh are melting off your bones.
So now is the time to entertain outside. Before you want to die. When it’s still bright and crisp and cool and perfectly lovely. So what do you make? Something simple, obviously. Nobody wants to be bothered with waking up ridiculously early to prep everything. I was a baker that had to wake up at 3am for a year, it’s not fun. Believe me. It’s also not worth it. Here is what you’ll make, a spin on Eggs in Purgatory also known as Eggs in Hell which is also known as Shakshukah. The very, very, very basic version is tomato sauce that’s all hot and bubbly and in go eggs. You do not touch the eggs. You let them poach right in the sauce. Just until the whites are set. Serve with some toast. It’s simple. It’s delicious. It’s hearty. It’s easy.
Like all recipes, many variations exist. Add in onions, bacon, potatoes, peppers, jalapeños, sausage, cheese…the list goes on. Whatever you like. Throw it in. Just use salsa. Use chili. Use leftover marinara and meatballs. Mmmmmm, meatballs. But I’m getting too far away. You came here for a recipe. A recipe with a fun name.
For this, variation, I used hot Italian sausage because everything is better with sausage. And there’s some spice. A great way to kick start your day. So because of that sausage, I had to give it an Italian spin because I’m weird and I need to theme things sometimes. Again, I’m starting to get off topic. Give me an inch…or a keyboard.
What makes this dish so great for brunch is that you can make the base (or the sauce) the day before, or even a few days before. All you have to do is reheat it. Bring it back to a boil and then add in your eggs. I like to broil because you can get some nice crispy brown bits which add a little extra flavorful crunch, but you can also cook them right in the pan. It’s up to you. Did I mention this is great for a crowd? Make a lot, throw it in a casserole pan, crack your eggs in and broil it. You’re done. So you can just sit outside with your friends drinking Bloody Marys and enjoying the gorgeous weather.
Feeling anti-social? Screw the crowd. Bring the sauce up to a boil, throw it in a ramekin or a small oven proof dish (go to HomeGoods, you’ll find plenty there) crack in an egg or two and you have the perfect little starter for yourself. And if you’ve made enough sauce, you can go back for seconds or just have more the next day or for dinner or, well, you get the idea.
So now, as I sit inside in a Starbucks on a rainy morning dreaming of one day having access to a vibrant green outdoor oasis to enjoy on a sunny spring morning, I bid you adieu.