The second in our Down Under 7 series, husband-and-wife team Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz create a Turkish-style stuffed eggplant.
12 each Italian eggplants (proportions in this recipe are for a 3 oz, 5'' eggplant)
3 lbs of braised, picked leg of lamb, seasoned with Urfa peppers, Lebanese 7 spice and two tablespoons of confit garlic puree
For braising liquid:
1 pint crushed tomatoes
1/2 C water
1/2 C EVOO
For feta bechamel:
1 pint of a thick bechamel
1/2 pint of crumbled feta
3 Tbsp of breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp of Aleppo chilis
To dress the eggplant:
Peel eggplant in alternating pattern. Some skin needs to be left on for structural support. Brine the half-peeled eggplants in a 10% brine for 2 hours.
Drain the eggplants and squeeze out excess juice. We also like to let the eggplants dry on high fan in a convection oven that is turned off.
To prep and stuff:
Pan fry eggplants in a cast iron pan until soft and maleable but not cooked through. Set aside the eggplants on paper towels to drain excess oil.
Fill the eggplants with the braised lamb. The traditional bell shaped filling is very common. The neck of the eggplant has less room for expansion but the tummy is very much able to take in as much of the filling as possible.
Lay the eggplants in a pan snugly so as to prevent any sort of disintegration. Fill the bottom of the pan with simple crushed tomatoes season with olive oil and salt. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake the stuffed eggplants in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked through. Let cool before trying to move the eggplants.
Let the eggplant come to room temperature naturally and cover with your feta bechamel and finish with breadcrumbs.
Gentle warm up in an oven and brulee in a salamander if oven is not hot. We used our brick oven for our lamb dish.
Serve over your simple tomato braising liquid or on its own. This would also serve well over a pilaf. Traditional applications include yogurt instead of the bechamel topping.