Baked Eggs With Spicy Tomatoes Makes for the Best Breakfast
Chef Joshua White's recipe for menemen at The Turk's Inn might not be traditional, but it sure is delicious
Nearly five years ago, Turkish food critic and television personality Vedat Milor took to Twitter to address one of the most important issues facing the country. Specifically, Milor wanted to find out whether the majority of the Turkish population was in favor of adding onions to the traditional breakfast dish menemen (named for the western town on the Aegean Coast where it was believed to be created in the early 20th century), which includes eggs, tomatoes, green peppers and spices like black pepper and paprika.
“Maybe it’s not possible to save the world on Twitter, but at least we can put an end to our biggest gastronomic problem right here,” he wrote in Turkish. “Is the menemen with or without onions?” Amazingly, Milor’s simple question received 437,657 votes, with 50.6% of respondents in favor of onions and 49.4% against.
Chef Joshua White didn’t vote in Milor’s poll, but he prepares his version of the dish at The Turk’s Inn in Brooklyn. His recipe calls for an onion to accompany two bell peppers, four eggs and a tomato-based sauce made with spices, including cumin, Aleppo pepper and cayenne.
A remake of the famed Wisconsin supper club that closed in 2014, The Turk’s Inn opened in Bushwick in 2019 and is owned by childhood friends who enjoyed the kitschy decor and authentic food at the original eatery — so much that they bought a good deal of the restaurant’s equipment and furnishings at auction. When White was tasked with revamping the restaurant’s brunch menu to appeal to the tastebuds of buzzed Brooklynites, ownership felt it was important that menemen be on it. So he got to work.
“I had four versions I wanted to try, so I made them all and tasted them myself,” White tells InsideHook. “I liked the one that had fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones because I thought the flavor was more balanced and sweeter. I thought about many different things to accompany it and decided I wanted to bake fresh bread. I think lavash really lends itself to this dish. I feel everything that goes on the plate should have some sort of touch and look and not be an afterthought.”
To achieve the level of spice he wanted for his tomato sauce, White turned to harissa. “It’s an ingredient that is typical in Turkish cuisine, and I think it has the right amount of spice and the right amount of flavor as well,” he says. “It lends itself to the entire flavor of the dish and you can taste it throughout, but it’s not going to be too overpowering. The eggs absorb a lot of that flavor.”
A dish that can be shared or eaten as a main course, Turk’s Inn’s menemen is a bit of a novelty item to most customers and has quickly become of the menu’s top sellers. “A lot of brunch places in New York serve typical shakshuka, but I feel menemen is not very popular. I don’t feel Turkish food is as readily as available as some other types of cuisines,” White says. “I had never had the old Turk’s Inn’s specific menemen dish, but I was able to put my own spin on it. It’s nice because it’s hard to find anywhere here.”
While the eggs in traditional menemen are scrambled, White bakes the eggs on top of the sauce, kind of like shakshuka. To try it at home, check out his recipe below.
The Turk’s Inn Menemen
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 40 mins (add 2 hours for rising dough)
Servings: 2-3 8-oz. servings
- 15 Roma tomatoes
- 10 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup harissa
- 1 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 Tbsp. Aleppo pepper
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
- 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 eggs
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- 1 bunch cilantro, picked
For the sauce
Cut tomatoes in half and place them on a sheet pan with the garlic. Roast until soft and slightly charred.
Blend together with the harissa, paprika, Aleppo pepper, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, and taste for seasoning.
For the lavash
Heat water and milk to 90-100 degrees and stir in yeast and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes or until it becomes frothy.
Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
While on low speed with a dough hook, slowly add the yeast mixture and oil to the stand mixer and mix on low until dough forms. Bring speed up to high and knead for 7 minutes.
Turn off mixer and form the dough into a ball with your hands and place back into bowl that has been lightly oiled. Let rise for 1.5 hours.
Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Portion into 1 oz. balls and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Roll each ball out into thin circles and cook in a hot pan or on a grill for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side until bubbles start to form and the outside is slightly browned. Optional to brush on some butter or oil and top with sea salt.
For the menemen
Heat up a cast-iron pan and saute bell peppers and onion until soft. Add sauce on top.
Crack 4 eggs in the pan and season with salt. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes until the egg whites are just cooked and the yolk is still runny.
Top with goat cheese and cilantro and a sprinkle of sea salt. Plate with lavash and enjoy.
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