The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: 156 Ovo In Cenere, Eggs on the Coals

Hard boiled eggs are ubiquitous. Part of a fast lunch, an ingredient in a green or mixed salad, they are dead common. Eggs are pretty portable and stable once they are cooked.

One modern variant on hard boiling eggs, particularly when large quantities are required, is to oven roast them at 300 for a half of an hour, Another is to roast them even longer, at about 200*F, for a full 5 hours.  Eggs are popular at a wide range of doneness, whether fully cooked through with a fully yellow yolk, or closer to soft boiled with a set white and runny yolk.


Recipe 153 calls for simply placing the raw egg on the coals, and turning it with a watchful eye til they are sweating, therefore done.

156 steps it up a notch, by asking the cook to crack the shell. That prevents turning and also allows the humidity in the egg to leave through the newly made cracks, so the tell of sweating shells is gone.

156 Get whole fresh eggs, put them on live coals, and strike them on top with a stick so they break, and let them cook; and when this trifle is cooked, take it out and put a little vinegar and parsley on top. They are good.

I don’t have a coalbed right now, and it is miserable out so I am not going to make one. However, I have a fair substitute.

Instead of building a woodfire, I put a thick layer of salt into a pan. This salt is only used for creating a hot bed, and can be used over and over.

six eggs lying on their sides, with the top side shattered. They are embedded about a quarter of the way deep in fine salt.
salt should be thick enough not to touch the pan, and must be preheated.

The salt is thick enough that the eggs, nestled comfortably in it, will not touch the pan itself.

The pan and salt get preheated in the oven, to about 300*.

6 eggs are placed in the hot salt and placed into the oven. At about 5 minutes, start watching for the smallest signs of browning. At no more than 12 minutes, remove them.

Allow to cool, and serve in shell, one or two per person as a side dish, with some red wine vinegar.

Honestly, other than for discussion, it is not worth doing this dish unless you have a decent coalbed going for other reasons. It’s easy to cook the eggs past rubber, and when properly done, they are not more interesting than a hard boiled egg.



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