Huevos a la Flamenca is a popular egg dish from Andalucia. Huevos a la Flamenca means flamenco style eggs, Flamenco being the music and culture of the Gitanos (gypsies) from the south of Spain. There is no proven etymology for the word flamenco, but it is said that the Gitanos themselves were called Flamencos, possibly with a slang origin of flamancia and flama, meaning fiery. Flamenco also means flamingo, the bird – they are bright like a flame and strut around as if dancing. The first written evidence of Flamenco was in 1774 by José Cadalso in his book Las Cartas Marruecas. Roma Gypsies arrived in Spain during the 15th Century coming to Europe via Egypt, hence the names Gitano and Gypsy, though linguistic and genetic evidence points to a North Indian origin. There may also be some Moorish influence in Flamenco (relative to Andalucia being the last Al Andalus stronghold in Spain), but the style of dance has many artistic similarities to that of Kathak dance from Northern India.
Huevos a la Flamenca is probably related to the North African dish Shakshouka. The Maghreb Shakshouka was created after the introduction of tomatoes and pimentón to Tunisia, when the Spanish occupied the region between 1535 and 1574. Shakshouka typically contains onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, pimentón and eggs. The dish sometimes contains preserved lemons, lamb, artichokes and broad beans. Shakshouka spread throughout the Ottoman Empire and Sephardic Jews living in the Maghreb introduced it to Israel, where it is quite popular.
Huevos a la Flamenca (serves 2):
1 large free range egg per person
a piece of picante chorizo (sarta) cut into 6 or 7 slices
2 slices jamón serrano (sliced)
1 medium onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 medium potatoes (chopped)
1 medium red bell pepper (chopped) or a pimiento rojo (blackened and peeled red pepper)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
a handful fresh peas
1/4 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
1/4 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
a splash sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley (for decoration)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
Cut 6 or 7 slices from a horseshoe shaped (sarta) chorizo picante and brown them in extra virgin olive oil. Remove to a plate.
I used leftover boiled potatoes (which is less time consuming than frying from raw), chop them into cubes and lightly colour in the same olive oil. Add more oil as necessary. Reserve to the same plate as the chorizo.
Poach (sofreír) the chopped onion in olive oil until it becomes soft.
Add the garlic and grate on the tomatoes.
Sprinkle on the pimentón and add a splash of sherry vinegar.
Stir in the chopped red pepper. Do use a pimiento rojo (a blackened and skinned red pepper) if you wish – they are sweeter and smokier than raw red pepper. Most supermarkets in the UK sell them in jars. Cover with a lid or plate and cook gently for 10 – 15 minutes to enrich the sauce and to allow the raw pepper to soften.
Check the seasoning and return the chorizo and potatoes to the pan – stir in the chopped jamón. Don’t cook the jamón for a long time, it will become chewy.
In Andalucia, this is often served in individual cazuelas, though sometimes it’s cooked in one big cazuela or frying pan with multiple eggs. So either make several indentations in your oven proof pan, or dish out the tomato mixture into individual bowls. Crack an egg per person into the indentations and put the Huevos a la Flamenca into a preheated oven at 200º C for about 10 minutes – check to see how they are doing after about 8 minutes.
While the dish cooks, shell a few fresh peas (you need about a handful) and put them on to simmer. When they are tender, drain the water and keep warm in the saucepan. Some people cook peas in the tomato mixture, but they look greener and more appetising if done separately.
Not everyone has an oven in Spain – where I lived on Carrer dels Escudellers (Barrio Gótico), back in the 90s, many apartments had originally been equipped with coal fired ranges. As small gas and electric burners became available, many people bought a two ring hob and placed it on top of the range. Similarly, outside of town, people are more inclined to cook outdoors and ovens can be too warm during the hot summer months. Therefore, Huevos a la Flamenca sometimes comes with fried eggs on top or a plate is used to cover the pan while the eggs poach on the hob.
When ready, sprinkle the peas and parsley on top of the eggs with a little black pepper or a pinch of pimentón. Serve with grilled or toasted sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. I recommend drinking a glass or two of La Flamenca tinto from Casa Balaguer with your eggs.
…and for a little music with your eggs, this is possibly the greatest Flamenco singer of all time, el Camarón de la Isla.