Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eggplant Made Rich

     I turned to the greeks for inspiration in trying to come up with my next eggplant recipe.  And boy did they deliver!  My sister always loved moussaka, but I always stuck to eggplant parmigiana.....until now!  It is a labor of love - I will forewarn you.  When you smell the aroma of nutmeg scented eggplant in the house on a crisp fall day you will be yearning to sink your teeth into this bubbling golden casserole.  

     Eggplants are closely related to potatoes and tomatoes.  Its no wonder these flavors blend into yumminess in this dish.  Because I  am sensitive to acid, I took the liberty of omitting the tomatoes from this dish.  Eggplant is actually considered a berry containing bitter seeds that originated in India. These seeds are bitter because they have nicotine in them.  That is why it we salt large eggplants and sweat them before cooking.
1/2 pound of ground lamb
3 medium sized eggplants
3 large all purpose potatoes
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 c of panko bread crumbs 

Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp of butter 
3 tbsp of flour
2 c of whole milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt 

1.   Set oven to 400 roast.  Remove skin from eggplant with a peeler.  Slice into 1/4 inch slices, lay on paper towels and salt liberally.  Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour if you have time.  Fill a medium pot with cold water and put on high to bring to boil.  
2.  While waiting, put a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and heat to medium-high.  Add lamb and cook until beginning to brown.  Add seasonings and toss.  Continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Set aside in a bowl to cool.  Place eggplant on oiled baking sheets and begin to roast for 30 min, flipping half way through.  Drop potatoes in water and boil until a knife just pokes in.  You do NOT want to poke a knife all the way through and have them break apart.  
2.  Allow eggplant and potatoes to cool.  Grease a deep 9x11 baking dish with olive oil.  Coat bottom with bread crumbs.  Once cool, slice potatoes into 1/4 in slices.  Layer potatoes, then a layer of eggplant, and a drizzle of olive oil.  If you like oregano like I do, sprinkle that on to.  I like the meat very finely ground so I chopped it more in a mini food processor.  If you don't care, just skip this step and add the lamb for the next layer.  Form the last layer with remaining eggplant.  Spread the bechamel on top and allow any extra to flow over the sides. Mmmm!  Bake at 350 for 1 hr.

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