Introduction: Moroccan Baked Eggs
A few weeks ago, I made these delicious baked eggs from smitten kitchen. They were really good. However, my first thought not related to eating them as quickly as possible was that they would be much, much better with meat. And then, inspiration struck!
There's an adorable creperie in Williamsburg that I always visit when I'm in New York, and my favorite thing there is a crepe named L'Orientale- it has merguez (spicy lamb) sausage, peppers, and an egg. It's delightful. This instructable is a mashup of that crepe and smitten kitchen's baked eggs recipe. It's not, strictly speaking, Moroccan, but rather Morocco inspired, with merguez sausage bits to for more protein and harissa for heat and red pepper flavor.
This recipe looks very impressive, and also much more complicated than it actually is: a prime candidate for impressing friends. Because of the sausage and layering, it takes a bit longer than the smitten kitchen recipe, but you know, lamb.
Step 1: Ingredients
You will need:
- 12 eggs
- Spinach (3 bunches if you want to include mushrooms in the recipe, 4 if you don't)200 g mushrooms (optional)
- 6 Merguez sausages (if you can't find any at your grocery store, try a specialty hot dog restaurant or a halal butcher)
- Harissa (I made my own, using this recipe, which isn't actually as spicy as I'd like, but the ethnic food section of your supermarket probably carries it too)
- Chili flakes, if you're a spicy food fiend like me
- 8 large garlic cloves*
- Gruyere cheese
- Feta cheese (about 50 g)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
You'll also need a 9 x 13 casserole dish. This recipe takes about 2 hours.
*My philosophy toward garlic can be succinctly summarized as: "MOAR GARLIC". True story: my friend once invited a lady he was pursuing romantically over to cook pizza, but when she hesitated and ultimately decided against putting more garlic on her pizza, he lost all interest. When he related this story to me, horrified, I was nothing but supportive of his (correct) decision. Which is to say, I'm a garlic fiend, so adjust downwards if you don't like your food garlicky (and risk losing my friendship forever)
Step 2: Cook the Sausage
Preheat your oven to 450 F.
Chop the sausage into little pieces. Make sure you use a different cutting board for this if your sausage is raw, and wash your knife thoroughly before using it on anything else. Cook the sausage until it is done (this took about 4 minutes on medium heat for me), and set aside. You shouldn't need any oil for the sausage, since it releases plenty of its own fat. You should divide the fat in half and store hafl after you finish cooking so you can use it for the spinach.
Step 3: Cook the Spinach
It's best to cook the spinach in two (or more) batches, unless you have an absolutely enormous pan and stove. My braiser is about 12" wide, and barely fit 2 bunches of spinach.
Mince the garlic. Rinse and roughly chop the spinach (or just tear it in your hands). Drain or pat dry (or centrifuge, if you have a salad spinner!) Put half the garlic in your pan, which has half the sausage fat, and saute for a few minutes, until the heavenly smell of garlic surrounds you and the garlic is sizzling a bit. Then add half the spinach, and cook until the spinach is about half to 3/4 wilted. Definitely err on the side of undercooking, since you're going to be baking it again, and if it cooks down too much your casserole dish will be empty. I found tongs to be really effective at moving spinach around the overfilled pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside the spinach, add the other half of the sausage fat to the pan and repeat for the other half of the spinach.
If you're not making the mushroom, you should a heaped tablespoon of harissa to the pan when you make the second half of the spinach.
Step 4: (Optional) Cook the Mushrooms
Rinse and chop the mushrooms. Heat up some olive oil in the pan, add some spices (I went with a little bit of cumin seeds and chili flakes, but just salt and pepper will do, too) and after they start sizzling, add the mushrooms. Stir, and then cook, covered, until the mushrooms have softened. Then add a heaped tablespoon of harrisa to the mushrooms, and stir until they're evenly coated.
Combine with 1/3 - 1/2 of the spinach.
Step 5: Layer Up the Casserole Dish!
Start by spreading about half (or 2/3) of the spinach on the casserole dish. Make sure the whole thing evenly covered, though the layer doesn't have to be that tall.
Grate some gruyere over the spinach, and spread another heaped tablespoon of harissa on it. If your harissa isn't spicy enough, you should also sprinkle chili flakes as you layer. Also, if your harissa or spinach isn't salty enough, you should also add those here. Keep in mind though, that the sausage might be salty and the feta cheese definitely is!
Add the sausage, spread evenly, and then add the mushroom-spinach mix.
Crumble your feta, and spread it over the top.
Step 6: Add Your Eggs!!!
Move the dish as close to your oven as possible. using the backs of two spoons, make 12 evenly spaced indentations. Feel free to move the spinach around to make the walls between indentations sturdier.
Crack the eggs into the indentations. I used a sharp paring knife to crack the eggs, since it left the cleanest break, and made it easy to pour the eggs. Don't worry if they overflow a little!
Step 7: Bake!
Carefully transfer the dish into the oven, and bake for 15-25 minutes. You'll have to start checking every few minutes around the 15 minute mark- ideally, the whites will be firm but the yolks still soft. They won't all cook evenly (the back of my oven is hotter, as well as the center, ymmv), so just check that the rawest looking ones look cooked enough for you or for your guest with the softest yolk preference. If you are, like me, selfishly making them all for yourself, keep in mind that they'll firm up more upon microwaving. (Also, don't be like me and explode your eggs in the microwave. Cut the egg before reheating)
Let it cool before cutting it up and serving! Eat for all meals.