Decades after my mother gave me her cast-iron Dutch oven, I still simmer minestrone and braise short ribs in it. I also bake huge servings of her mac ‘n’ cheese in a 14-inch black skillet for open house buffets. In the process, I feel connected to my past and more comforting times. While mostly cooking for two now, my 8- and 10-inch skillets are the ones I reach for. They’re amazingly versatile, almost indestructible, and even stylish, judging by high-end restaurants that serve in them. Plus they’re inexpensive and, once seasoned, easy to clean. These are some reasons I noticed novices and seasoned cooks buying cast-iron.
This trend prompted me to revisit some of my favorite cast-iron dishes and create new ones inspired by my travels around the world. Along with classics, there are recipes for shakshuka and seasonal pumpkin pancakes, mushroom flatbread, perfectly seared steak, and ooey-gooey toffee-coffee brownies—choices for every hour of the day and every season. Cast-Iron Cooking for Two is for anyone who enjoys preparing and eating delicious food as well as the adventure of discovering new and exciting dishes from across the street and around the world. And, in a time when we need to support those affected by global disasters, I am donating a percent of the book’s profits to World Central Kitchen, the global initiative founded by Chef José Andrés.
This dish of poached eggs in spiced tomato sauce is said to have originated in Tunisia, where the word shakshuka means a “mixture” in Arabic slang. Its fame spread throughout the Middle East, and recently the dish has become popular in the United States. Enjoy it as a bright, appealing entrée at any time of the day. The tomato sauce includes sautéed onion and an Anaheim chile or a bell pepper, if you prefer less heat.
Add the tomato paste if the tomatoes taste slightly acidic. Pita bread triangles are essential for dipping in the sauce and runny eggs. Cheese on top is a matter of choice.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large Anaheim chile, seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped (1/2-3/4 cup)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted and diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste, if needed
- Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- 3−4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or mint
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- Warm pita, cut into triangles, to serve
Heat an 8-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the olive oil, Anaheim chile, and onion and sauté until soft and golden, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cumin, and paprika and cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes and water, adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the optional tomato paste, if desired. Season to taste with salt.
Reduce the heat to low. Crack one egg into a glass or measuring cup. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the tomato sauce. Holding the space with the spoon, pour in the egg. Repeat with the remaining eggs, spacing the indentations evenly in the pan. Cover and cook until the yolks are just set, about 6 minutes or longer, occasionally spooning the tomato mixture over the whites but not disturbing the yolks.
Sprinkle the parsley and cheese over the dish and serve with pita bread triangles.
Like this recipe as much as we do? Click here to purchase a copy of Cast-Iron Cooking for Two: 75 Quick and Easy Skillet Recipes. (A percent of the book’s profits will be donated to World Central Kitchen, the global initiative founded by Chef José Andrés.)