Eggs In Purgatory

When you want something different, imagine a skillet of spicy, savory tomato sauce, eggs that are poached on top, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese then served with crusty Italian bread for dipping and wiping up all that delicious sauce.  It is a perfect brunch recipe or is it perfect comfort food? Either way, it’s delicious!

Old fashioned dishes that are referred to as peasant food are always the epitome of comfort food.  This is one of my favorites. It is so satisfying with the tomato sauce, cheese, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.  I like to keep the bread slices soft, rather than toasting them. I feel like I can get every drop of the sauce using soft bread slices.

Cast iron skillet with spicy Italian tomato sauce and poached eggs, garnished with parmesan cheese and basil. Served with a side of Italian bread.


  • Use really fresh, preferably free-range and organic, eggs.  The yolks on free-range eggs are bright, sunny yellow and have a richer flavor.
  • When making the sauce, if you want it milder and less spicy, add the crushed red pepper flakes to the tomatoes instead of infusing the olive oil.   You can also leave them out completely.
  • Take the time to allow the onions and garlic to take on just a hint of color to intensify the flavors.  Be careful, you don’t want to brown the garlic or it will taste bitter.
  • Don’t skimp on the butter in the sauce.  It mellows out the acid of the tomatoes and just marries all of the flavors together.
  • Be sure to cover the pan once the eggs have been added, but leave a little open slice to allow the steam to escape.  If you don’t cover the skillet, the eggs won’t cook.


Make this perfect comfort food your own!  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Eliminate the red chile flakes and add one or two links of hot Italian sausage.  Remove the casings and cook the sausage, breaking the meat up into small pieces. Drain off the fat and continue the sauce by sauteing the vegetables with the cooked sausage.
  • Another meaty option is to dice pancetta and saute before adding the vegetables.
  • Looking for more nutrition?  Add fresh spinach to the skillet when sauteing the onions and garlic.
  • Go totally decadent by adding a slice of goat cheese to the top of the eggs at the end of cooking.  Give it a few minutes to melt. I can’t tell you how rich and delicious this addition is. The combination of the sauce, the egg yolks, and the goat cheese is so incredible, you will think Homer Simpson is at your table with the moaning that will emanate.

Cast iron skillet with spicy Italian tomato sauce and poached eggs, garnished with parmesan cheese and basil. Served with a side of Italian bread.




Comfort food or the perfect brunch recipe? Either one, this skillet of spicy tomato sauce, silky poached eggs, and Parmesan cheese is a satisfying way to start an easy Sunday morning.  Serve with Italian bread toasts for sopping up the luscious sauce.

  • Author: Eats By The Beach
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian



2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

¼ cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or crushed

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

4 large eggs

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Crusty Italian bread, cut into slices

Fresh basil, julienned for garnish


In a large oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes. Stir into the oil and allow to cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and onion.  Cook, stirring constantly until the onion becomes translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  

Stir in the Italian seasoning, salt, and chopped tomatoes with their juice.  Bring to a simmer. Use the back of your spoon to crush the larger pieces of tomato and allow to cook for 20 minutes.  

Stir in the butter and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese.  Cook another 5 minutes.

Once the sauce reduces down a bit, use the back of your spoon to make 4 indentations in the sauce.

Crack the eggs, one by one, into a small ramekin or bowl.  Gently slide the egg into the divots on top of the tomato mixture.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and the black pepper over the eggs.

Partially cover the skillet with a lid and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Check to ensure that the whites of the eggs are completely cooked and set, but the yolk is still runny.

Remove the skillet from the heat.  Garnish with a sprinkle of basil leaves.

Serve hot with slices of Italian bread.

Keywords: perfect brunch recipe, comfort food, egg recipes, Italian food, Italian breakfast, brunch recipes, breakfast recipes