Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Stuffed Eggplant (Baitinjan bil Saneeyee)
Just thinking about this makes me crave it! My mother and grandmothers could make this blindfolded and when we smelled it filling the house, we were instantly impatient for dinner!
Hint: Pick eggplants that are dark, full and not bruised. They should feel firm to the touch.
Also, try to get American raised lamb, not the Australian kind, but if Australian is all you can find, then so be it.
2 Large Eggplants
1 pound coarsely ground lamb or beef
1 large can fine diced tomatoes, yes the really big can
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, chopped
pepper (or better yet, ground Jamaican allspice which tastes similar to Lebanese pepper)
Wash eggplants. Cut off stems. Cut them lengthwise in half and then lengthwise in half again. Now, put the skin side down on your cutting board and make a slit with your knife on the peak of the cut on the meat side of the lovely vegetable. The slit should go almost the length of the eggplant and should not go as deep as to cut through the skin.
Get your salt and sprinkle those babies, line them up in a foil lined pan and cook at 350 degrees for about half an hour. This gets the extra moisture out of them and gives them a little smokey flavor. They will soften and sag a bit while they are in the oven.
While they are baking, use a large saute pan and drizzle with some olive oil, maybe a couple of tablespoons. Dice the onion and saute in the oil. When they get soft and translucent, add the pine nuts. Make sure you do not leave the kitchen while doing this because the aroma will draw everyone else to come and try to sneak a taste. When the onions and pine nuts are a light golden brown, put in the lamb or beef and mix together, add salt and pepper to taste, sauteing until the lamb is cooked.
Now here comes the good part. After you take the eggplant out of the oven, let it cool enough not to burn your little fingers. Open the slits, which will be easy to do since the eggplant has softened. Put them in a deep baking dish. Take the lamb mixture and scoop it from the pan and stuff those beautiful little darlings from end to end.
Then take the tomatoes and pour them into a bowl. Add about a teaspoon of salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Pour this over each one of the stuffed eggplants.
Bake these luscious marvels for 40 minutes at 350.
Serve over rice pilaf. Heaven can wait.