Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Once every four years, I spend a month watching football. A month setting my alarm for the early hours of the morning, staggering up, bleary-eyed, turning the television on and surrendering sleep for the wonder of the World Cup. I love the crowds, I love the personalities (the countries! the haircuts! the celebrations! the heroes! the villains!), I love the drama, I love the football. And I love an excuse to cook for friends, like this Saturday, when Australia took on Chile at the entirely civilised hour of 8am Sydney time. I suppose I should have themed our meal to the cuisine of one of the countries involved, but really what it came down to was something I could make in between matches (Spain v The Netherlands - a cracker of a game - finished around 7am), so as not to miss a second of play. And so, shakshuka: a way to cook eggs for a crowd without being chained to the stove.
A staple of many Middle-eastern cuisines, shakshuka - traditionally made in a cast-iron skillet - consists of eggs poached in a tomato sauce enriched with onion and chilli. This recipe, from one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, adds smoky cumin and spicy paprika to the sauce and scatters fetta and parsley over the top. Served on a slice of toasted sourdough, it's utterly delicious - as satisfying as a Tim Cahill header into the back of the net in the second half... no matter what the final scoreline.
Adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen
If you do happen to have leftovers, this is surprisingly good heated up in the microwave the next day, the tomato sauce even more delicious with time for the spices to settle in.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 long green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or more to taste)
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 x 400g tin tomatoes
coarse sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fetta, crumbled
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add chilli and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, til soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Put tomatoes in a bowl and crush with your hands. Add them to the pan along with 1/2 cup of water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, til thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season with salt.
Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce's surface. Cover skillet and cook til yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato sauce, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with fetta, parsely and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve with toasted sourdough.