Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in purgatory, frightening name for a breakfast dish, right? According to Roman Catholic religion, purgatory is a state of punishment for souls that haven't been damned to hell, but hadn't lived a life without sin. These souls sort of hang around in this state of suffering for an undisclosed amount of time before they can go through a purification process that will allow them to go to heaven. So, why the eggs in purgatory? Well, my family vacations in Ocean City, Maryland every summer and while we're there we make the quick trip over to Bethany Beach to visit with my grandparents.

Before you interrupt, don't go there with your evil thoughts, my grandparents home is NOT the purgatory I am referring to!

You may remember my grandmother, she is the force behind the Chocolate Buttercream Easter Eggs that have been part of our Easter celebrations for over 40 years. Click here for the recipe and to meet my adorable grandmother, Joan.

Whenever we visit with my grandparents, we take them to breakfast. One of my favorite places to take them to eat is called DiFebo's Italian Restaurant in Bethany Beach, Delware.

Eggs in Purgatory is one of the menu items. This dish consists of two poached eggs nestled in a heaping bowl of spicy roasted pepper tomato sauce and served with the perfect sized baguette to help soak up all that delicious sauce.


I always order this for breakfast and my husband will order the sausage and egg sandwich, which is HUGE! Then I let him steal some of my sauce to top his sandwich.

Another item on their breakfast menu, which is my grandmother's favorite, a Belgium waffle topped with an ice cream sunday and served with a side of bacon. For a little lady, she will clean that plate!

Since I only have access to this dish once a year, I've tried my hand at a recipe that comes as close as I remember to the real thing. If you are ever find yourself in Bethany Beach or Ocean City, head over to DiFebo's. If you happen to come across Kena, tell her the Cowboy sent you!



1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1-2 garlic cloves or shallots, minced

1 heaping teaspoon of hot pepper flakes

1/2 cup of white wine

1 teaspoon of oregano

1/4 cup of packed fresh basil leaves, torn apart

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1-28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 red peppers, roasted



Crusty Bread

In a large saucepan over medium heat , melt the butter and olive oil. Add the minced garlic/shallots and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour in the white wine and cook for another minute.


Add the can of tomatoes to  the saucepan. If you have an immersion blender, give the sauce a good puree. If not, use a blender to puree the tomatoes before adding them to the saucepan.


Dump in the sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce thickens up.


Preheat the broiler to high and lay the four red peppers on a baking sheet. Place the red peppers under the broiler. Keep a close eye on the peppers. You are looking for the skin to turn black. Roll the peppers over a couple times during the cooking process to ensure all sides get roasted. Alternatively, you can char the peppers on a grill, turning them as their skin turns black.


Once all sides of the peppers have been charred, place them in a bowl and immediately cover with aluminum foil. Let them rest for 5 minutes.

Place a pepper on a cutting board, cut the peppers in half and pull out the seeds and scrape off the charred skin. WARNING: Peppers will be hot and watery.


Slice the peppers into 1/2 inch pieces and add them to the sauce.


Now the sauce is complete, it's time to poach the eggs.

Fill a small saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs and a tablespoon of white vinegar. You want to bring the water to a low rumble. Crack an egg into a small container. This will help slowly add the egg to the water. Watch the video at the end of this post for poaching the perfect 3 minute egg. You will also find another delicious breakfast option after the tutorial.

PREPARATION TIP:If you are thinking about serving this dish at your next brunch party, poach the eggs the day before. Under cook the eggs by about 30 seconds. You want the whites to be just about set. Carefully place them in a tightly sealed container filled with cold water and store in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, in a large sauce pan, bring water to a low boil and carefully place the eggs in the water. After about 1 minute, remove the eggs and serve.

Fill a bowl with the purgatory sauce and two poached eggs. Serve with a slice of crusty bread. I suggest checking out the recipe for Crusty Dutch Oven Bread.I make a bunch of these loaves and freeze them for later use.