Eggs in Gravy (Eggs In Purgatory)


Eggs in Gravy, as we used to call it, was a usual Friday night meatless meal in our family growing up, especially during Lenten season.  I believe it is now commonly referred to as Eggs in Purgatory.  That definitely sounds more religious.  I forget about this dish all year long, but as soon as Lent begins, I can almost smell it in my mind, and can’t wait to make it on a Friday night.  It’s always received with great enthusiasm, and I say I should make this more often, but for some reason I have pegged it as a lenten dish only. I think of it as Italian poached eggs.  Instead of poaching eggs in water, we poach them in tomatoes and olive oil.  Of course we do!

Now the real key to enjoying this meal, is having the best, crusty Italian bread you can find for “scarpetta.”  Literally translated, this means “little shoe.”  I don’t quite get the imagery, but the idea is that you take a hunk of bread (shoe) and let it submerge (into the sauce/ground), and then scoop it up.   Let’s translate it as “dunking” or “dipping with enthusiasm.”   Call it what you will, but you will definitely not want to leave any of this sauce on your plate.  The rich, earthy taste of the egg yolks running into the tomato sauce, will make you want to “fare la scarpetta” until the loaf of bread (and sauce ) are gone. You will barely need to wash the plate afterwards!


1 medium onion, chopped

4 TBSP olive oil

1 28 ounce can of Italian peeled tomatoes, squished by hand

salt and pepper to taste

6 eggs

crusty Italian bread (essential)

1.  In a heavy fry pan (I use my cast iron skillet, just as my grandmother and mother did), heat oil.  Add onion and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes or so, until soft.

2.  Add squished tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and stir.  Simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes, stirring often.

3.  Break eggs gently, and evenly throughout the pan.  Cover and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes, until whites are firm, but make sure yolks are runny.  That’s key to the flavor.

4.  Serve in a bowl or plate, covered in the gravy, and let the “scarpetta” begin!


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