Huevos a la Malagueña
It was unmistakable. There was a chill in the air this morning. Not a breeze, not a nip, but a chill. This summer went by fast for me and being in the final stretch of recipe testing and writing has only accelerated it. This week I was looking for a substitute for the Cuban aji guaguao and was told that tabasco peppers should work. I stopped by a few of my favorite markets but they didn’t carry them. Earlier this year, I was supposed to visit the McIlhenny Company‘s tabasco pepper fields in Louisiana but the trip was postponed until October. At the time it felt like a long ways off but now it couldn’t come soon enough. With New York produce failing me, I couldn’t wait to be where tabasco peppers were literally growing on trees (or bushes – not sure because I haven’t been there yet).
In the meantime, I had shrimp simmering for camarones enchilados that needed heat. I usually add a few drops of Tabasco sauce but I decided to use their habanero variety instead. Despite the name, habanero peppers are always used sparingly in Cuban cooking. Fiery where other peppers are hot, habaneros are quick to overwhelm. In this case, the blend of hot peppers with fruitier elements like mango, papaya, and tamarind brought it under control. Running behind, it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner by the time I finished. I decided to turn the enchilado into huevos a la Malagueña- spicy shrimp blended with ham and sometimes asparagus and peas then baked with an egg in individual dishes. It’s a traditional Cuban dish with Spanish inspiration. It was a last minute call, so I used the chorizo I had on hand instead of ham. I also left the peas and asparagus for another -maybe spring day – which will no doubt come sooner than I can imagine right now.
Huevos a la Malagueña/Málaga-style Eggs
1½ pounds large shrimp, shelled with tails off
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large cubanelle pepper (also known as Italian frying pepper), stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato purée
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1-2 teaspoons Tabasco Habanero pepper sauce plus more to taste
1 cup red pimientos, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped plus more to garnish
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
½ pound Spanish-style chorizo, casing removed and cubed into ¼-inch pieces
6 extra-large eggs
6 10-ounce ceramic ramekins or small baking dish
Place the shrimp in a large glass bowl. Blend together the lime juice, salt and pepper and pour over the shrimp. Cover and allow the shrimp to marinade in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours. Drain the shrimp and reserve the marinade.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy skillet. Sauté the pepper, onions, and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade, tomato purée, wine, saffron, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the habanero pepper and adjust the heat to taste. Drop the heat to low and add the pimientos and shrimp. Simmer, covered until the shrimp are fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add the parsley and cilantro.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Lightly brush the ceramic ramekins with olive oil. Place a heaping ¼ cup of the tomato and onion broth in each ramekin. Top with 4-5 shrimp and distribute the chorizo evenly. Crack and egg into a small bowl or cup and gently drop into each ramekin. Place in the oven and bake until the whites are set, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and more pepper sauce to taste. Serve with toasted baguette or thick country style bread.