College football season is back and with it comes the time-honored tradition of the tailgate. Every weekend, thousands of probably still-hungover college students gather in yards, parking lots, and wherever they can gather to drink beer, eat food, and maybe or maybe not actually give a damn about the two teams that are about to play on the field.
Most games take place in the afternoon or the evening, giving you plenty of time to a) recover and b) prepare for the next round of drinking. But what about those pesky morning games when the sun hasn’t even hit its zenith until partway through the first quarter? You still need food, but it doesn’t really feel right to bust out a full rack of ribs just yet. (Unless it does feel right, then more power to you — check out these recipes).
For most of us, we want something easy to make but still delicious. So, what did we land on? A classic, of course: kegs and eggs.
We weren’t the only ones who gravitated toward the dish, either. We spoke to Joe Vigorito, executive chef of L’Artusi in New York City, about his own tailgating past. The most memorable thing for him? Kegs and eggs. While a student at Ohio State, he says, he learned how to cook for others and this dish was his first foray.
“My roommates and I lived on Lane Ave, the main strip leading to the Horseshoe. We bored out an old refrigerator, breaking six drill bits in the process, and turned it into a kegerator,” he says. “Every Saturday morning during football season I would set up shop, cooking eggs with whatever we had on hand. Tomatoes, mushrooms, leftover greens from someone’s fancy dinner with their girlfriend the night before, usually lots of cheese. The line of people would come in our front door ready to fuel up for the game. It was during this time that I started to seriously consider culinary school.”
Even back then, his kegs and eggs were something special, which is a lot more than we can say for our crack-eggs-in-pan-and-hope-for-the-best method.
In honor of tailgating season returning, Vigorito has recreated the kegs and eggs of his youth and shared the recipe with us. Uovo in Purgatorio (Italian for “eggs in purgatory”) is full of fresh Italian flavors and incredibly easy to make (a hallmark of Neapolitan cuisine). You can make the entire thing on a grill as long as you have a cast iron pan.
If you’re going to be using this for your next cookout and want to have the full kegs and eggs experience, we recommend Peroni, an Italian standard as far as beers go. You could also pick up some beer from Trader Joe’s or any of these cheap beers and it’ll still taste great. We promise.
Uovo in Purgatorio
- 6 slices crusty Italian bread
- 6 large eggs
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 can of whole plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 2 oz diced pancetta
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, torn
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Red pepper flakes
- Red mizuna or any tender peppery or lemony greens to garnish (chef also likes arugula or purslane)
- Optional: Any grated firm Italian Cheese to finish (ricotta salata, pecorino of parmigiano, etc.)
- Heat a 12-inch cast iron pan on a medium flame on a grill.
- Add pancetta and olive oil and render until pancetta is crispy.
- Add sliced garlic and chopped rosemary and cook until garlic just begins to brown.
- Add tomatoes to pan and crush/break apart tomatoes with a wooden spoon or tongs.
- Season with red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. Go sparingly on salt because pancetta will be salty.
- Cook until flavors meld and sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
- Add parsley and basil. Stir through.
- Crack eggs directly into sauce. Making small divots in the sauce will keep the eggs in place. Season eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Close grill and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 6-8 minutes.
- While eggs are cooking, brush bread with olive oil and grill on both sides until golden brown. Rub bread with a garlic clove while still hot.
- Serve hot; get plenty of the sauce and top with greens and grated cheese if you like. Be sure to dunk the bread in any leftover sauce.
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