Vegetarian Moroccan chili loaded with beans and topped with poached eggs.
There's something about poached eggs on vegetables, grains, or beans that instantly gets us by a fireplace on a cold night. Even if it's still in the (insanely warm) 80's outside. This might be the warmest October so far in my memory in the Bay Area, and I've lived here for over 25 years. I grew up in Pennsylvania and lived for many years in Massachusetts, and I am so ready for crisp weather, sweaters, and corduroy slacks. I want to pull on knee socks and slip into soft loafers and relax with a book while a football game plays in the background.
But our weather right now invites us to the beach for a cookout. I know. Complaints from paradise. But it just seems wrong.
The weatherman promises colder weather next week, and I'm holding him to it. I'm pulling out my autumn and winter dishes, and ignoring the fan that's keeping me cool. In a version of 'build it and they will come', I figure if I make enough cold weather dishes, fall and winter weather will come.
There are a couple of ways to add the eggs. Most recipes call for cooking off some of the liquid so that the chili is thick, forming a hollow with a spoon, and plopping a raw egg into the hollow. Simmer the chili until the egg white becomes solid, but not so long that the yolk completely hardens.
An option is to just fry or poach the egg separately and add it on top at the end. This works just fine too.
Don't, however, be tempted to broil the egg at the end for a quick cooking. It ruins the texture of the egg and it's almost impossible to end up with the yolk anything but the texture of a rubber ball. Trust me on this one.
Ras-el-hanout is a spice common to North African and Middle Eastern dishes. The name is Arabic for "head of the shop" and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. There's a lot of variability for what goes into the spice mix, but cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and chili peppers are common ingredients. If you can't find the spice mix, you can make your own, or add a cinnamon stick, a few cardamom pods, and a pinch of dried red pepper flakes.
When I used to eat sausage, this was one of my favorite comfort dinners for the cold nights of fall and winter from Food52. For my mostly vegetarian life, however, I substituted beans for the sausage. Feel free to add sausage for the meat eaters at your table, pork sausage would be great - or merguez, but I think you'll find this hearty enough to satisfy everyone at the table without the meat.
Moroccan Vegetarian Chili with Poached Eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion about ½ medium-large onion
- 2 cups diced sweet red pepper
- 2 tablespoon minced Fresno red chile or other mildly spicy pepper
- 1 ¾ teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ras-el-hanout spice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 4 ½ cups chopped ripe tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups red beans
- 4 large eggs
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers, and spices. Cook until the peppers and onions are very soft. Add the tomato paste and cook for five minutes, while occasionally stirring. This base is considered a sofrito in latin american, spanish, and Caribbean cuisine. It should be very fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and beans. Cook for 30 minutes until the beans are heated and the tomatoes form a sauce. Turn the heat up to high for five minutes to evaporate some of the tomato sauce liquid and return the heat to medium-high.
- Form four hollows into the ragout with a large spoon and spill a raw egg into each hollow. I recommend breaking each egg individually first into a separate bowl and adding them one at a time. Cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes or until the egg whites firm up but the yolks thicken, but remain runny.
- Serve by spooning out an egg with the ragout into a bowl. A thick slice of crusty bread is a great accompaniment.