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.” Continue reading