In last week's Chef and Tell interview with Joe Freemond, the executive chef of Cellar Wine Bar, he admits that as a kid, he wasn't remotely interested in wieners or burgers. In fact, his favorite restaurant was Sushi Den, the logical choice of a five-year-old.
He also grew up on Jewish foods, including shakshouka, a Hebrew word that means "all mixed up." In Israel, says Freemond, "the dish is a common workingman's breakfast, something nice and hearty to keep you going." And the "beauty of shakshouka," he adds, "is that it's incredibly simple to prepare using some basic inexpensive ingredients," like tomatoes, hot sauce, and eggs. "I like my shakshouka really spicy with some good sausage in it, too," he notes, adding that in Israel, the dish is "traditionally served right in the pan that it's cooked in."
He recommends serving it with crusty bread to soak up the sauce, along with a salad.
Shakshouka (Serves 4)
2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 yellow onion, minced 1 28-ounce can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed in a food mill or food processor 2 tablespoons filfel chuma hot sauce (recipe follows) 2 tablespoons tomato paste 3/4 pound bulk spicy sausage (my favorites are the Merguez, linguicia or chorizo from Il Mondo Vecchio) 8 eggs Salt and pepper to taste Italian parsley, minced Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet large enough to hold eight eggs. Add sausage, garlic and onions and lightly saute over medium heat until the onions are soft and the sausage is cooked, about 8 minutes. 2. Add tomato paste and the filfel chuma. Mix and saute for another 1-2 minutes. 3. Add pureed tomatoes and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavor with salt, pepper, or more filfel chuma; the sauce should be strong, piquant and spicy. (The sauce can be stored for later use or for smaller individual servings. Reheat the sauce in a small 7 to 8-inch skillet and once the sauce is piping hot, crack 2 eggs into the sauce and proceed continue with the directions.) 4. Make little wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each well. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks aren't quite set. 5. Sprinkle the minced parsley over the top, and place skillet in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in!
Serve with crusty bread.
Filfel Chuma (Makes 1 cup)
"Filfel chuma is a powerful and flavorful Jewish hot sauce that's the heart and soul of the shakshouka sauce," says Freemond. "The quality of the spices is extremely important when making it," he adds, noting that he buys his spices whole from the Savory Spice Shop and grinds them himself. Filfel chuma will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator if it's covered in olive oil and tightly sealed.
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10 cloves garlic, chopped 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, depending on your heat tolerance) 4 tablespoons sweet paprika 1 teaspoon ground caraway 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to cover 1 lemon juiced 1 teaspoon salt
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse, adding the oil slowly until a thick paste forms. Place in a sterilized jar and cover with more oil.