Our obsession began over a bubbling skillet filled with spicy tomato sauce, eggs and crusty bread at Alden & Harlow in Boston. The trend, a spicy take on eggs in purgatory, was driven home by the announcement of three Israelis launching a shakshuka truck in New York City (we’d happily welcome them in Chicago). The news led us on a quest to find the dish closer to home. This mission, while delicious, proved to be a difficult one.
Although it's one of the most popular egg dishes in Israel as well as a breakfast staple throughout the region, shakshuka took a little longer to make it onto menus around Chicago. At Avec, chef Perry Hendrix saw it as a logical addition to the Mediterranean-focused brunch, although you'll find it on the menus as "Baked Eggs" ($10). “We draw from a traditional Italian pasta sauce,” Perry says, “Shakshuka has Middle Eastern origin and the peppers are Spanish.” The eggs are dropped into the sauce and baked in the wood oven with chickpeas and feta, and then finished with crispy pita, parsley and piparras peppers.
For the version at Beatrix (pictured; $9.95), a bed of kale is topped with spicy tomato sauce and topped with two poached eggs, and then accented with feta cheese and toasted naan triangles. The dish spends just enough time in the oven to keep the eggs soft and creamy — they're best enjoyed piled onto the warm naan.
You can find a more traditional take ($12) on The Winchester's brunch menu. The eggs are poached in a spicy tomato pepper sauce with chickpeas, ricotta salata and olive oil. The dish was so popular that the airy West Town restaurant added it for breakfast and lunch as an off-menu special (diners can also find a gooey butterkäse grilled cheese paired with roasted garlic and tomato soup on this secret menu for $10). "This gives us the flexibility to change up the ingredients and keep it seasonal," says owner and general manager Chris Pappas. He's also planning to add it to the dinner menu starting next month, so guests can get their shakshuka fix all day, every day.