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Eggs in Purgatory


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling on toast
  • 2 large cloves garlic, 1 thinly sliced and 1 halved
  • 3 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes, more to taste and for serving
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large sprig fresh basil or rosemary, or a pinch of dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, more to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • Sliced crusty bread, for serving
  • Small handful chopped basil or parsley, for garnish


  1. In a large skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic, anchovies and red-pepper flakes and cook just until the garlic turns golden brown at the edges, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil sprig, and turn the heat to medium-low.
  2. Simmer, squashing tomato pieces with a wooden spoon or a potato masher, until the tomatoes break down and thicken into a sauce, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, butter, salt and red-pepper flakes to taste.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, make 6 divots into the tomato sauce, then crack an egg into each divot. Cover the pan and let cook until the eggs are set to taste, about 2 to 3 minutes for runny yolks. (If the pan is not covered, the eggs won’t cook through, so don’t skip that step.)
  4. While the eggs are cooking, toast bread in a toaster or under the broiler. Rub warm toast with the cut garlic clove, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  5. To serve, sprinkle eggs with more Parmesan and chopped herbs, then spoon onto plates or into shallow bowls. Serve with garlic toast and pass pepper flakes at the table.