Shake, Shake, Shake Shakshouka…
You sang that title line, didn’t you? Yeah, you did? No? Well, you’ll be singing it after you eat this one-pan dish that gets wonderfully enhanced flavors from fire roasting the veggies. And ya gotta eat your veggies, so you might as well make them delicious. And yeah, I know. Technically, tomatoes are a fruit, but we all know that they identify as a vegetable, so let’s go with that.
We had a bowl of tomatoes that was looking sadder than a George Jones country song, so it was time to react. After the idea was brought up of maybe using them in a shakshouka, it blossomed to include the bulb of fennel on my mind that was waiting for some inspiration as well. Fennel on my Mind may coincidentally be a 1967 Glen Campbell recording. I’m not entirely sure and will check on that. Actually, it’s Gentle on my Mind, which again, coincidentally, is exactly how fennel comes out when grilled or roasted. Very gentle and somewhat sweet, losing the strong anise profile, just in case you have an aversion to the black licorice type of flavor. So yes, the fennel is grill roasted, along with the ugly tomatoes, the red onion, and the garlic cloves. It took a good 20 minutes or so, using hardwood coals with a touch of cherrywood smoke, just enough for the veggies to begin to show some charring and caramelization.
After a quality 20 minute pondering session pitside, it was time to pull the veggies off of the grill. Rough cut the fennel, onion, and garlic and remove the skins from the tomatoes. Dump the tomatoes in a bowl and get in there with both hands and start the squishing. Squish the tomatoes until they are thoroughly juiced and just a little chunky. Or if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, just mash them up with the back of the spoon or something, but squishing those beauties with your hands is more fun and satisfying for some reason. Trust me
Off to the grill we go, where a flat bottom pan or skillet has a good squirt of the olive oil heating over a direct, medium fire, waiting for the red onion, fennel, and garlic to join in. That they did, with a mixture of cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. Keep it all moving until fragrant and thoroughly mixed. You won’t need more than a couple of minutes since these ingredients were already roasted over the fire.
Stir in the squished tomatoes and let this beautiful mixture bask in its own greatness, which is the same as just letting it simmer a bit. You’re likely going to need some of the liquid to simmer out to get a thicker base for the upcoming egg drop.
Egg drop! Crack four eggs into individual bowls to make it easier to roll them into the indentations you make in the sauce. I recommend using individual cups for the eggs unless you’re some sort of champion egg cracker. Then you can obviously skip that step and crack and drop the eggs in the appropriate spots at your leisure, probably one-handed, you showoff you, ?.
At this point, you can put the lid back on the grill and let the sauce simmer and gently cook your eggs to order. So let’s reveal your true identitiy, shall we? How do you like your eggs? Me, I’m team runny yolk, so when they looked good, I pulled the pan off of the grill. If you like them cooked a little more, leave the pan on the grill to cook the eggs longer. And when you do finally pull the shakshouka off of the heat, sprinkle it with your choice of cheese (I used Mediterranean herbed feta) and top with your choice of fresh herbs. Parsley was the choice here, but certainly cilantro, basil, oregano or rosemary would make great options as well.
And don’t forget the crusty, chewy, grilled bread for dipping and dunking. I forgot the crusty, chewy bread, so we had grilled tortillas. An okay option, but as I said, don’t forget some good crusty and chewy grilled bread.
I gotta say, the flavors built into this sauce through fire roasting and smoking the vegetables up front are fantastic. It’s just one way to change up ordinary recipes. Dipping bread (or tortillas) in the creamy egg yolk combined with the smoke-roasted flavors of fennel, red onion, and garlic sauce is simply awesome, and worthy of a regular spot on your grilling menu.
Because Life Is Better Wood-Fired
Fire Roasted Shakshouka
- Charcoal grill
- Large Pan or Skillet
- 7-8 medium tomatoes
- 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 large red onion
- 1 bulb fennel
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 eggs, cracked in separate dishes
- olive oil
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- tortillas or crusty bread for dipping