By Ryan McKay

Shakshuka. Say it with me again but properly. SHAK-SHU-KA! What fun. With a name like that, one would expect a bold and powerful dish, and I’m proud to say that the final product doesn’t belie the name. This recipe heralds from the lands of North Africa and the Middle East and is as common a dish as falafel within the region–and rightfully so. It hits all the right notes: acid, spice, heat … Shakshuka indeed!

Peppers and onions stewed in spicy tomatoes with poached eggs are a great way to start the day in any land and a worthy addition to your firehouse. The best part is that this is a one-pan meal and is most at home in a reliable firehouse cast iron pan.

A few after the fire critiques: This is traditionally a part of a hearty breakfast dish but feels just as good as a lunch or dinner. Consider serving over a piece of toast (did someone say naan?) or over a bed of roasted root vegetables with a nice side salad. Lastly, can’t find any turmeric (you really should search this spice out) or Swiss chard? Substitute with cumin or spinach, respectively. Last, I love to sprinkle either feta or queso fresco over the top to add some brine cheese flavor to the meal.

Serves 4-6



Eggs (6)

Onions (2 medium, julienned)

Red Pepper (seeded, julienned)

Poblano (red preferred, julienned)

Swiss Chard (3 cups, ribs removed and chopped)

Cilantro (⅓ bunch, chopped)

Crushed Tomatoes (28 ounces)

Garlic (3 cloves, minced)

Tomato Paste (1 Tbsp.)

Smoked Paprika (1 tsp.)

Turmeric (1 tsp.)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil (2 Tbsp.)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Large Sauté/Cast Iron Pan 12-inch with Lid



  1. Place pan over medium-low heat and heat 1 Tbsp.m olive oil.
  2. Add onions, pepper, and poblano, and cook 20 minutes.
  3. Make well in middle and add additional 1 Tbsp. olive oil, paprika, turmeric, and garlic to bloom for 30 seconds; then mix to combine.
  4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and ½ cup water, then bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes. Add Swiss chard on top and cover with lid and cook 5 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and mix in Swiss chard until combined and cook additional 5 minutes.
  7. With a large spoon, make 6 shallow wells in the sauce and carefully crack eggs into them, place lid back on, and cook till whites are set on the eggs 8-10 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat; top with cilantro; season with salt, pepper, splash of EVOO, and a pinch of paprika; and serve immediately. Indulge!


Ryan McKay is a 13-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.

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