So stop me now, wouldja please? My fingers may haltingly tap out the unfamiliar combination of letters for Chakchoukah but what my brain insists on spilling out is that 1970s ear worm of a song, Ooga-chaka Ooga-chaka.
OogaChaka Eggs, how's that? It's got a ring, right? But that would ignore the North African roots of this dish, what I called Shakshuka (Eggs Nested in Summer Vegetables) when I first fell for baking eggs in tomato-y skillets. Call these eggs what you like but do, yes, make them one day this week because heaven knows, we need an antidote for the sugar, butter, cream and wine consumed in the last week. I so love it when Christmas falls on the weekend – Monday's return to healthy food is such a relief! But if I'm not really-really careful, though? It's the week between Christmas and New Year's when it's way-way easy to let your guard down.
Clean eating? It deserves its own earworm.
RECIPE for CABBAGE & PEPPER CHAKCHOUKAH aka OogaChaka Eggs
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 5 cups stew, enough for 5 - 10 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste (don't skip!)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caraway
4 cups (about 1 pound/450g) chopped green cabbage
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper (see ALANNA's TIPS)
5 - 10 large eggs
Salt & pepper
Fresh parsley, for garnish
PEPPER-CABBAGE-TOMATO STEW In a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil until shimmery. Toss in the onion and peppers as they're prepped, stirring each addition to coat with fat. Sauté just until beginning to turn color, seasoning with salt and pepper at least once. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in spices and cook for 1 minute. (What's this 1-minuted business, eh? Just letting each ingredient cook briefly.) Stir in cabbage and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and let simmer for 30 - 45 minutes (finally! real cooking!) until cabbage is fully cooked and soft; every 5 minutes or so, check the temperature (you don't want it to boil hard but you don't want it to just sit there doin' nothin' either) and take a little taste, then decide whether to add more salt and pepper. Can be made ahead of time, in fact, maybe should be made ahead of time! Just let cool, cover and refrigerate.
BAKED EGGS Set oven to 350F/180C, put oven rack in upper third of the oven. If made ahead of time, reheat Stew until bubbly.
SKILLET OPTION To bake the eggs right in the same skillet, use the back of a spoon to make depressions in the Stew and carefully slip eggs into each depression. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until eggs are cooked and the yolks as runny or firm as desired. Top with a little fresh parsley and serve hot.
RAMEKIN OPTION Place ramekins on a baking sheet, place in the oven while it heats up. Once ramekins are hot, fill with Stew. Use the back of a spoon to make a depression in the Stew, slip an egg into its nice little nest. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until eggs are cooked and the yolks as runny or firm as desired. Top with a little fresh parsley and serve hot.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Life intervened the day I made this so it didn't get served for another couple of days. Total win! It keeps beautifully and maybe even improves with some time in the refrigerator.
LEFTOVERS The Stew isn't a runny sauce, more a thick vegetable stew. It makes a great side dish with roast chicken, also makes fabulous Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda).
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
SALTY TIP! I do so love recipe writers who insert interesting tips into their recipes. It makes all of us better cooks! Here, New York Times writer Martha Rose Shulman offers up a good one. When you're sautéeing the onions, if the onions start to stick, add a little salt. That makes so much sense, especially if like me, you often sauté vegetables with only a little oil. A sprinkle of salt will not only season the vegetables, it will draw out their moisture. Voila, no more sticking! My usual tack would be to add a splash of water but some times that can water down the flavor, too.
CHOPPING SIZE Big pieces, small pieces? Well, it depends. If you want to be able to see and taste and distinguish one vegetable from another, cut the vegetables into big pieces. But if you want the vegetables to disappear into the stew, or for the stew to "go further" to serve more people, then go for small pieces.
SALT & PEPPER When I work with St. Louis chefs for my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, nearly all of them season their dishes throughout the cooking process, reflexively reaching for salt and pepper every so often rather than only at the end. I've started doing this too but it's sure hard to keep re-mentioning when writing recipes!
LE CREUSET RAMEKINS Love those little ramekins? Me too! But .... I must admit, I've had them a long while and this is the first time I've used them. On the plus side: totally cute, love the colors, nice for portion control. On the down side? Hard to stack and store, very breakable.
NOT INTO BAKING EGGS? How to Poach a Perfect Egg!
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TRADITIONAL "LUCKY" FOODS FOR THE NEW YEAR!~ Braised Collard Greens ~
FAVORITE RECIPES for BLACK-EYED PEAS & GREENS
~ New Year's Turnip Greens ~
~ Summer Black-Eyed Pea Salad ~
(really a year-round salad that just tastes like summer)
~ Hoppin' John Soup ~
~ more recipes with beans, lentils & other legumes ~
~ more recipes for leafy greens ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Salad ~
~ Lucky Black-eyed Pea Soup ~
~ more New Year's recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
ANYONE ELSE COLLECT FAVORITE EGG RECIPES?~ How to Make a Spinach Omelet ~
~ Baked Eggs in Cream with Spinach ~
~ Baked Eggs with Ratatouille Vegetables ~
~ more breakfast recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Gashouse Eggs ~
~ Mexican Gas House Eggs ~
~ Shakshuka (Eggs Nested in Summer Vegetables) ~
~ How to Poach a Perfect Egg ~
~ more recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSNew Year's Turnip Greens Cabbage & White Bean Stew Hoppin' John Soup New Year's Soup with Black-eyed Peas & Collard Greens Hot Corn Dip
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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