A long time ago, my first waitress job was at an IHOP. Yupp, that blue roof International House of Pancakes. I can still remember that identifiable smell of pancake batter and sticky syrup and the order of the syrups in the caddy on the table was Old Fashioned, Butter Pecan, Strawberry, and Blueberry. Now, this was way way back in about 2001 so they may have made some changes to their syrups. It's funny how certain things just stick with you through the years. Servers will agree with me, we remember the computer codes for menu items. When I turned 18 and was able to get a job at a restaurant that service liquor I started working at Macaroni Grill. I still write SPAG MEAT or FETT ALF if I'm making my home menu and it includes spaghetti and meatballs or fettuccine Alfredo. My favorite was for an amazingly delicious dish called the Penne Rustica, the code in the computer was CROCK.
Anyway, back to breakfast.
From my days working at a pancake house my palate has matured...a lot. I find myself searching for new flavors and savory dishes for breakfast. A few weeks ago I came across some recipes for Shakshuka, an amazing North African dish with onions, pepper, eggs and warm spices of cumin and paprika. Oh yea, this was definitely happening. I added a Spanish twist (can you blame me?) and this recipe below includes chorizo sausage and is topped with crumbled cotija cheese instead of feta. I also did a cooking hack and instead of cooking the eggs in the dish, I cooked them on the side and then added them to the top to serve. I'm telling you, I followed a recipe exactly the first time and I could NOT get my eggs to cook in the oven. So, I find for me it's easier and more predictable to cook my eggs on the side. You definitely need to eat this with sturdy bread or hearty biscuits. Trust me! The sauce is just begging to be soaked up and the best bite is topping your bread with a piece of chorizo, some pepper and onions, a little egg and a cool piece of cheese. Oh my. You're going to want this every weekend.
I wonder if IHOP has Shakshuka on the menu now? Doubt it.
-1 red pepper, sliced thin
-3 cloves garlic
-3 chorizo sausage links removed from casing
-3 tablespoons EVOO
-1 tablespoon paprika
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 (28oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used Tuttorosso, you'll use the tomatoes and the sauce and I found the sauce had a good thickness), roughly chopped
-salt & pepper
-crumbled cotija cheese
1. Mix together the cumin and paprika. In a large sauce pan over medium/ medium-high heat, cook the chorizo. I like to cook on one side for a few minutes, then flip and cook the other side a few minutes more. Then, using your spatula break up the links into small pieces, continue to cook until no longer pink inside. Once cooked, spoon into a bowl.
2. In the same pan, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers. Spread them out into an even layer and let them cook, untouched about 5-6 minutes. Stir and repeat until all the onions and peppers are nicely dark and charred a bit. With a zester, zest in the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat the veggies. (Keep an eye on your heat, adjust down or up as needed). Now add the diced tomatoes and the sauce from the can and the cooked chorizo, reduce heat to low to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and taste, season with salt and pepper.
2. While the sauce is simmering, in another pan cook your eggs to your liking. Most Shakshuka is served with poached eggs, but I prefer mine about over-medium. It's up to you, although scrambled wouldn't work here.
3. To serve, plate a few spoonfuls of the tomato mixture, top with crumbled cotija cheese, and lastly the egg. Eat with sturdy crusty bread or fresh biscuits.
Adapted from: Serious Eats