Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shakshouka with Harissa



Aren't these egg yolks a magnificent shade of orange?  The yolks are so naturally vibrant.  Trust me when I say these eggs taste as good as they look/photograph.  Procured these beauties from P.A. Bowen Farm in Southern Maryland; the farm is owned by Sally Fallon and Geoffrey C.Morell.  If the name Sally Fallon Morell rings a bell, you may be familiar with her book and her foundation.  The farm is about an hour's drive from DC.  I recently heard Sally speak at a DC Slow Food event, which inspired a visit to her farm.

The reason these egg yolks are so vibrant has everything to do with how P.A. Bown Farm raises livestock.  Their farm is an old-fashioned pasture-based, mixed species (they also raise cows, pigs, and turkeys), soy-free farm that employs modern technologies and biodynamic techniques.  Their approach to farming is based on  Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, which Michael Pollan wrote about in Omnivore's Dilemma.


Eggs in hand, I have a great recipe for your next Sunday brunch.  Shakshouka is a tasty alternative to your ordinary omelet and it's just fun to say shakshouka, shakshouka, shakshouka (say it fast, three times).  Shakshouka translates to "all mixed up" in Hebrew.  The eggs are poached in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices.  There are many versions of shakshouka, some use paprika, others use chile paste such as harissa.  You can make this dish as fiery as you please by adding more harissa and by varying the chiles used to make the harissa.


A word or two on harissa...

Have you tried this highly addictive condiment?  Love this stuff.  It's great spread on a piece of lavash or pita.  Harissa is a North African chile-based condiment that packs a lot of flavor.  Its base is an assortment of dried chiles.  I used a combination of mild and moderately spicy chiles -- ancho and guajillo.  Anchos are mild and provide fruity, raisiny notes,  while guajillo chiles provide a bit more heat.  If you want an even spicier harissa, you could add a few dried chipotle chiles or chile de arbols to the mix.  You can make the harissa in advance, but be sure to save enough for the shakshouka.  Better still, make a double batch; chances are, it won't last long no matter how much you make.    


Shakshouka
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 Anaheim peppers, seeded, and thinly sliced (or other peppers of your choice, spicy or not)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3-4 tablespoons harissa, more or less to your liking (recipe below or store bought harissa such as this)
3 to 4 eggs (more if you like)
Chopped parsley
Crumbled feta (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the Anaheim peppers and saute 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, turmeric, and harissa.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are soft and most of the liquid has cooked out, about 15 minutes.

With a wooden spoon, make 3 to 4 indentations in the stew.  Break one of the eggs into a small dish and slide it into one of the indentations; repeat with the remaining eggs so that each indentation contains an egg.  Cover the pan and cook over low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft and runny, about 5 minutes.  Garnish with parsley (and feta).  Serve immediately with a side of harissa and some crusty bread.

Note: you can mix things up a bit and add eggplant, zucchini, or other seasonal vegetables.

Harissa
5 ounces assorted *dried chiles (such as ancho, guajillo, and pasilla), stemmed, deveined, and seeded
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
3 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to cover
ground cayenne pepper (depending on the spiciness of your chiles, if you want a bit more zip, add  1/2 teaspoon or so cayenne pepper; more or less to taste)

Place the chiles in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for 25 to 30 minutes to rehydrate.  Drain well.

Heat a small cast-iron skillet over high heat.  When hot, add the whole cumin and caraway seeds and shake the pan frequently to prevent burning until the seeds release their fragrant aroma, about 1 minute.  Place in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grind to a powder.

In a food processor, puree the chiles, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, paprika, ground cumin and caraway, salt, sherry vinegar and lemon.  Add the olive oil and process to a smooth paste.  Transfer to a jar, cover with a thin layer of oil and store in the refrigerator, up to a month.

*I like to use a combination of chiles.  The fruity raisiny anchos counterbalance the spicier guajillos.  Heatwise, the pasilla falls between the ancho and guajillo chiles. I usually use half ancho and half guajillo and/or pasilla (add more guajillo, if you want a bit more kick).  

1 comment:

LookingFANCY said...

Very colorful! Looks really tasty!