Saturday, June 2, 2012

Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs

Have you ever heard the proverb "success has many fathers, failure is an orphan"?  I think it holds for meals as well.  So it should tell you something that this recipe is the fortuitous offspring of a meal at my favorite brunch place in Lawrence, KS, an impulse-buy at the grocery store, and one of my favorite food sites.

A few months ago I was gazing at the massive number of Chinese sauces for sale at the grocery store (50% of which are just flavored soy sauce) when a little can of harissa caught my eye.  Harissa had its food moment several years ago in the U.S., but it is staple of northern Africa - a cuisine I love, but rarely cook.  I brought the harissa home and it sat, forgotten, in my pantry until my epic clean-out a few weeks ago when seeing it reminded me of the recipe for Moroccan Merguez Ragout I saw on Food52.  I couldn't find ground lamb to make my own merguez, so I made my merguez patties by cutting open 2/3 of a pound of premade pork and lamb sausages and mixing in a tablespoon of harissa and a tablespoon of homemade ras al hanout.

Here is where the Milton's influence comes in.  Summer and I had brunch there last Christmas and I couldn't decide between eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine so they graciously stacked ham, spinach, and eggs under a layer of Hollandaise. The spinach makes you feel just the tiniest bit virtuous and adds a mineral coolness to contrast the spice from the sauce.  The combination of harissa and warm spices from the ras al hanout gives a roundness to the spice instead of just a chili heat.  I can totally understand why harissa was the en vogue hot sauce for a while there (I believe it is now sambal).  I suspect you could poach pretty much anything in this sauce with great success. I imagine spinach and chickpeas over quinoa would be a fantastic vegetarian main course.  And if you try it, may I suggest a poached egg on top?

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