Food You Can Eat: Piperrada with Eggs and Serrano Ham

Makes you want to go hike a Pyrenee or two, doesn't it?

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Piperrada (or piperade, in French) is a Basque dish of onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and flavored with an Espelette pepper (piper is the word for pepper in Basque and in Gascon, which is a French variant spoken on the French side of the Basque country; that’s where the name of this dish comes from.) Traditionally you can add eggs, paprika, and/or ham, and I am a maximalist, and I found a recipe a few years ago that combines all three!

Cousin Matthew’s Stovetop Piperrada

This is from a blog called homecookinginmontana, and the writer adapted this from Food Network/Canada, so make of that what you will. If you google Basque eggs, though, this is it, but there’s a presentation twist I like. I have adapted it further, and this is what I’ve made.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, sliced but not diced. Make slivers out of it.

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced

1 large red pepper, cut into thin julienne

1 green bell pepper, also julienned

1 Espellete pepper, julienned. [Neither the writer nor I had access to an Espellete so she, and therefore I, used a jalapeño.]

4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped

A little salt and pepper. You can easily omit this.

1 tsp smoked paprika [here’s our old friend pimentón again, if you can find it]

4 eggs

8 thin slices Serrano ham. Use slices from a smoked ham, or prosciutto, should no Serrano ham be available to you.

In a large sauté or frying pan heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. On medium low heat add the garlic and the peppers (red, green, and Espelette/jalapeño) until they’re soft too, probably about 5 or 6 minutes for this, or maybe more, depending on how you julienned the peppers and the dimensions of the pan you’re using. Add the tomatoes and shake in some salt and/or pepper if you want. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes (everything gets soft and the juices are released) and then remove the cover and cook some more until the juices have mostly evaporated, 5—10 minutes.

Now here’s the first fun part. With a wooden spoon make 4 holes or wells in this (this is the piperrada) and crack an egg into each one, being careful to keep the yolks intact. Salt and/or pepper the eggs if you want. Cover again and let the eggs cook until they’re the way you want them. I think they’re best if you get the whites to firm up and leave the yolks runny but you be the judge. You can let this go without fear of the piperrada scorching.

But where is the ham? This is the other fun part. On 2 plates or 4, depending on how many you’re feeding, make 4 wreaths out of the ham slices. With the biggest spatula you have, divide the piperrada with the eggs in their centers and plop them onto the wreaths (see header image.) You may have to dig out the eggs, put them in the center, and scoop out the piperrada to make a border within/on top of the ham.

Isn’t that fun! Sure to wow the crowd. This is absolutely delicious.



  1. Fun and pretty!

  2. I throw pimentón in so many things; it’s awesome! Shouldn’t be too hard to find these days.

    • We have a very strange food distribution system here in the Soviet Republic of Novi Yorkskaya. Outside its confines I have been in Kwik Marts and 7-11s larger than our supermarkets. This is not such a bad thing: no one needs 70 different types of cereal or 120 different producer/flavors of ice cream. The greatest variety of snacks is to be found in CVS. Bodegas always yield weird and wonderful things in the space of a suburban bathroom. When I first moved to this neighborhood I threw a housewarming, how could I not. I realized that this one appetizer I wanted to make required toothpicks to hold it together and I had no idea where to find any. I went into the nearest bodega and magically the guy pulled out a couple of boxes squirreled away under the counter, one plain, one with cellophane frill wrap. I bought both.

      I guess it’s sort of like living in Europe. We’re down to one supermarket (plus the Whole Foods) and maybe three bodegas I can walk to, and the CVS. The only place I can get big cans of pineapple juice (for highly alcoholic tiki punches) is at one particular bodega. It’s a mystery.

  3. This sounds good, and bonus points for skipping the food blogger cliche of directing your readers to eat this with “crusty bread.”

    Every single damn time this kind of thing comes with that imperative, as if readers will have no idea what to do with any juices — pour them through the mail slot? encase in lucite? accumulate in a bathtub and then drop a hair dryer in them? No, wait, eat with crusty bread! Who could have imagined?

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