Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stuffed Eggplant With Beef And Gruyere

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I have been thinking about what to do with Sandra's gift for a few days and I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to enjoy these small eggplants is to stuff them.  It is a crime to slice and throw them on the grill or to chop them up for caponata or ratatouille.  So off I went looking for a recipe that was a bit out of the ordinary and after finding  none that excited me, I decided to venture out on my own.

The trick here is to precook the eggplant in the skillet until it is almost done but still firm enough to hold the stuffing while it cooks in the oven for an additional  40 minutes.  You want to make sure the eggplant is cooked all the way through, including the skin, by the time you take them out.

This is not your typical tomato based meat stuffing.  I wanted something "mellow" but with a kick which I got by adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to bring the flavor up a notch. Somehow tomato sauce and Gruyere don't pair well in my mind;  but if you want more of a tomato flavor,  just add another tablespoon of the paste.
With a dish like this all you need is a glass of wine and a fresh baguette. 

BTW there is nothing prettier than an uncooked eggplant and nothing uglier or harder to photograph than a stuffed one!  I tried a few angles and different lighting  but after a few tries,  I just gave up. Trust me, they were good.  We had some tonight and the rest are in the fridge until tomorrow when they will go into the freezer for a later time.


6 small eggplants (2 lbs total)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 TB for sauteeing the eggplant
4 mashed garlic cloves
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup green or red pepper, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 TB tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 Tb. heavy cream
1 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush them with olive oil.   In a skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 mashed cloves of garlic.  Cook the garlic for about 5 minutes.  Prick eggplants with a fork and lay them flesh side down in the skillet covered, turning once,  until almost done but still firm enough to hold the stuffing, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, slice open and, using a large spoon scoop out the flesh to make a shell about 1/2  inch thick. Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Toss in the onion, the peppers and the other 2 cloves of garlic, and cook until everything begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until browned slightly, about 5 minutes.   Pour the wine over the meat and cook on high until the wine is almost all absorbed.  Add the 2 TB. tomato paste and mix well into the beef.  Add the  chopped eggplant, and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to bring the flavors "up".  Cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Uncover and add the cream and the Gruyere cheese and finally the bread crumbs.

Scrape into a bowl to cool.  Add parsley and mix well.

Put the eggplant halves in a large baking dish, and drizzle with the remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon salt, and toss well to coat all of the eggplant with the oil. Fill the eggplant halves with the filling, and arrange snugly in the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmigiano. Cover the dish with foil, and bake until the eggplant is tender all the way through, about 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake until the top of the filling is browned and crispy, about 10 minutes more.

1 comment:

  1. Never mind the ugly, they look delicious! Will make them this week.
    Knew I could count on you for something new...


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