SHARE
COPY LINK

RECIPE

How to make Italian ‘eggs in purgatory’

This spicy southern Italian dish will keep you warm while waiting for the summer. Neapolitan cook Silvana Lanzetta shares her family recipe.

How to make Italian 'eggs in purgatory'
Uova in purgatorio, 'eggs in purgatory'. Photo: DepositPhotos

Usually in Naples, the colder months are quite mild. Still, you will find people wrapped up as they were going to cross the North Pole, complaining how chilly the weather is today. And the only thing they want to do is to go back home and eat a warm, comforting bowl of uova in purgatorio!

So what’s with the weird name? Why 'eggs in purgatory'? Very likely the name originated because the white of the eggs, against the fiery red background of the tomatoes, reminded people of paintings representing the fragile souls of the damned caught in the flames of purgatory.

READ ALSO: Six springtime foods you simply have to taste in Rome


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Despite the grim imagery, this dish is amazingly delicious. My kids love it, and it’s always a happy dinner when I prepare it.

There are several versions of uova in purgatorio: with garlic, with less onion, without onion, and so on. This is my family’s version. Try it today, I’m sure you will love it.

Tips

If you want a milder spice, add the chilli to the tomato sauce instead of infusing the oil.

Uova in purgatorio are best eaten immediately: they do not store well at all.

Ingredients (4 servings)

8 eggs
1 tin chopped tomatoes
4 onions
3 bay leaves
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsps grated Parmesan
4-8 slices of toasted bread
1 small pinch of crushed dry chilli
Salt to taste

Instructions

1. Gently heat the oil with chilli in a casserole. Slice the onions, not too thin, and add to the pot. Let them sweat for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent, taking care that they don’t take any colour.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes and keep the tin aside. Let cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat. Fill the tomato can with water, as much it can hold, and pour it into the casserole. Add the bay leaves. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.

3. Lower the heat to medium-low and crack the eggs into the pan, making sure to space them apart. Poach for about 4 minutes: ideally you want the white to be solid, but the yolk has to stay runny. If you don’t like uncooked eggs, you can cook for longer (about 10 minutes), until the eggs are completely solid.

4. Serve your uova in purgatorio immediately in a bowl with toasted bread, sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FEATURE

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara

It has just three ingredients, but a lot of bite: artisan pasta maker Silvana Lanzetta shares her recipe for the perfect carbonara sauce.

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara
An authentic carbonara sauce has only three ingredients. Photo: Flickr/Wine Dharma

Pasta alla carbonara (literally translated as 'coal workers’ pasta') is one of the most well-known and loved Italian delicacies: the creaminess of the eggs contrasting with the crispy guanciale makes it a pleasure to eat.

The origins of carbonara sauce are still uncertain. However, the recipe doesn’t appear until 1944, which prompts some speculations on how this delicious recipe came to be.

READ ALSO: The original recipe for authentic bolognese sauce

The most widely recognized theory is that this beloved Italian dish is an American adaptation of the traditional cacio e ova: when the Allied troops were stationed in Italy toward the end of World War Two, they got fond of pasta cacio e pepe, but to give them a “back home” flavour, they added smoked bacon to the recipe.

Roman people enthusiastically adopted the new dish, and quickly added it to their cooking.

They swapped the bacon for guanciale (the fat from a pig’s cheek) as they already had pasta recipes using guanciale and Pecorino cheese, the other two being pasta alla gricia and bucatini all’amatriciana.

Tips

Don't use Parmesan cheese for this recipe. However, if you're having difficulties finding guanciale, pancetta can be used instead.

Never add cream to the recipe: the creaminess is given by the sheer amount of grated Pecorino – so don't skimp on it! 

READ ALSO: Silvana's ten golden rules for cooking pasta like the Italians

Ingredients

  • 360 g spaghetti
  • 120 g guanciale
  • 4 eggs yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 150 g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Step 1:
In a non-stick pan, fry the guanciale in its own fat until slightly crispy, taking care not to brown it too much.

Step 2:
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and the whole egg with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese until a thick cream is obtained. Add the cooked guanciale and reserve.

Step 3:
Cook the spaghetti al dente. Reserve about 100 ml of the cooking water. Drain the pasta well, and immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the eggs. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg.

Step 4:
Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water, and mix well so as to coat all the pasta. If the sauce is still too dense, add some more cooking water. If too runny, stir in more cheese.

Step 5:
If necessary, season with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately sprinkled with extra grated Pecorino cheese.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

SHOW COMMENTS