Disclaimer: This is not an authentic recipe for shakshouka. For one thing, it includes fried chicken. For another, it uses Swiss cheese. Also, I do not plan to take sides in the various controversies as to whether the dish should be viewed as Tunisian or Israeli or whether it should be viewed as a breakfast dish or served at an evening meal. I can only reaffirm that shakshouka is easy to make and delicious.
- 4 chicken thighs
- olive oil
- ½ yellow onion,, chopped
- ¼ cup diced carrots
- ¼ cup diced celery
- 6-8 miniature sweet peppers, sliced into rings
- 4 medium crimini mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup dry vermouth
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 8 ounces chicken stock
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ¼ teaspoon ground thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon powdered lemon peel
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ounces Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
- 4 eggs
- In an oven-proof skillet (cast iron is perfect), brown the chicken thighs in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Drain off the rendered fat and transfer the pan to the middle of an oven preheated to 250°F.
- In a separate skillet, sweat the onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Stir in the carrots, celery, and sweet papers, and continue to sauté for 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the vermouth and continue to simmer until the vermouth has almost completely reduced.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, chicken stock, sage, thyme, cumin, and lemon peel. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the oven. Cover with the sauce. Sprinkle with the grated Swiss cheese and return to the oven.
- When the cheese has melted, remove the pan from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Crack the eggs and place them in the spaces between the chicken thighs. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the egg whites have set but the yolks are still runny. Watch carefully so that you don’t overcook the eggs.
- When the eggs are done to your liking, remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Lately I have been watching some DVDs I purchased from The Great Courses. If you are not familiar with that company, they offer video recordings, and sometimes accompanying books, prepared from the lectures of outstanding instructors. You can study art appreciation, Egyptian history, architecture, and just about any other topic you can think of. They have a series on cooking as well as on wine appreciation, so I bought both.
One of the instructors in the cooking series is Bill Briwa who is a Chef-Instructor at the Greystone, California campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Briwa has a very personal and comfortable teaching style, and on top of that he offers a lot of good information and easy-to-follow demonstrations.
The DVD set that I am currently watching is called The Everyday Gourmet: The Joy of Mediterranean Cooking. As the title suggests, there are recipes and demonstrations from Spain, Provence, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and North Africa.
My blogging friend, Happiness Stan Lives, recently received a tagine (His had eyes), and so he demonstrated how to make a Moroccan tagine. I was surprised to learn from Bill Briwa that a “dry” tagine is made in Tunisia without the peaked hat cooking device.
Since I don’t have a Moroccan tagine (That is a hint to my family.) I thought I would give the Tunisian version a try.
Out of the oven ready to serve
Served with a small salad
Tunisian Tagine Ricotta
- ¾ pound ground lamb
- seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¼ cup olive oil + more to oil the baking dish
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup Monterrey jack cheese, grated
- 2 hard boiled eggs, each cut into 6 wedges
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- In a bowl, mix the ground lamb with the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and black peppercorns. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs and grated cheese. Set aside until ready for assembly.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the ground lamb mixture, stirring until the lamb is well browned. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a shallow baking dish with olive oil. Then pour in 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture, tilting the dish to completely cover the bottom.
- Spread ½ of the lamb mixture over the egg-cheese mixture. Spread ½ of the ricotta over the lamb. Press 6 hard boiled egg wedges into the ricotta, distributing them evenly.
- Cover with 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible. Top with the remaining lamb and ricotta, pressing the remaining 6 hard-boiled egg wedges into the ricotta between the other wedges.
- Pour the remaining 1/3 of the egg-cheese mixture over the top, spreading it so that it completely covers the other layers.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 40 minutes or until the eggs are completely cooked and the top is beautifully browned.
- Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve while still warm. Serves 4.