Whew, that’s a mouthful! But a delicious one.
Modified from Food 52’s recipe for Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs, this is what I chose to make for our Christmas brunch.
What makes it so special, so Christmas Brunch-worthy? If I had to choose one answer, it would be the ras el hanout. What is that, you wonder? It’s a North African blend of spices, typically made of cardamom, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, clove, cinnamon, peppercorn, fenugreek, paprika, turmeric and more.
In Arabic, ras el hanout means “head of the shop” or a blend of the finest spices available. At one time ras el hanout would have included cantharides, or Spanish fly (it’s a beetle, why not call it that?), as an aphrodisiac. Here is what wikipedia has to say about cantharides:
“As it passes through the body, cantharidin irritates the genitals resulting in increased blood flow that can mimic the engorgement that occurs with sexual excitement. For this reason, various preparations of desiccated Spanish flies have been used as some of the world’s oldest alleged aphrodisiacs, with a reputation dating back to the early western Mediterranean classical civilizations. The ease of toxic overdose makes this highly dangerous, and for this reason the sale of such products as Spanish Fly has been made illegal in most countries.”
Yes, we’re talking about an aphrodisiac that can kill you . Awesome! Merry Christmas!
But the ras el hanout I purchased does not have blended up killer beetles that increase blood flow to your genitals. I hope. Good grief, I am so off topic.
Back to the recipe …
Baked Eggs in Moroccan Ragout with Spanish Chorizo (modified from Food 52’s Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 8 oz hot Spanish Chorizo, 1/4″ slices (not Mexican Chorizo!)
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon Spanish hot smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- warm crusty bread, for serving (pain de campagne was perfect with this)
- Preheat oven to 375
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Stir in the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the chorizo and sauté until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium-low and add the ras el hanout, Spanish smoked paprika and salt. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute to lightly toast the spices. Add the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium and cook until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5-10 minutes.
- Divide sauce into individual oven-proof dishes and crack an egg into the center of each (it was just the two of us so I used 2 small cast iron skillets and saved the remaining sauce/eggs for another time).
- Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the whites are set, but the yolks are still soft. Start checking early as you don’t want the eggs to be overcooked.
- Top with chopped cilantro.
- Serve immediately with harissa on the side, crusty bread and a glass of red wine.
This dish is wonderfully spiced – warming, heady, swoony and exotic. I love spooning up bites of spicy chorizo and fresh cilantro or dipping my bread into the sauce, saving the prized egg yolk for last.
And even without the Spanish Fly I do feel a little extra heat in my blood.