Contains: Nightshades, dairy, wheat, gluten.
Until I was surfing around in Pinterest, I had no idea that this dish is a “thing”. Being as I’m a sucker for stuffing food with other foods, here we go!
This is a recipe I wanted to make for my “Greek Month” of February, but never got around to it as I was always missing one ingredient or another, and it looked more intensive than my mood was (for the moment) at. Finally, before the milk involved goes bad – here we are! (Now to figure out what to do with the rest of the milk – it’s not something I just drink…)
The source website is indeed a great source of intriguingly good Greek cuisine. I’m happy to participate in re-creating this recipe, and where I vary, I’ll tell you. (I am indeed halving the recipe for obvious logistical reasons. I’m not having company in for it – at least this trial run time – but I WANT to eat this!)
This can be made with ground (minced) lamb or beef. I chose lamb as I’d just gotten a half a grass-fed, grass finished lamb from a (once very local to me) farmer into my freezer.
I went with pecorino cheese, as I have not really worked with it before.
For the béchamel, the milk has to be at least room temperature to prevent clumping when this portion of the dish is prepared. Béchamel is a sauce I’ve never made before. This one has a heavier component than traditional French béchamel.
I used additional oregano (in the meat sauce), and used grape tomatoes instead of the regular tomatoes (I had the former here, and don’t really like the latter in off-season). Medium sized eggplants are larger here in the US than apparently in the source country, so I simply halved ingredient amounts while switching the number of eggplants from the original recipe to just one.
I think eggplants near me are larger than the author’s – I used one eggplant, and simply halved the amount of other ingredients, and it worked fine. Maybe my meat sauce did end up higher – and I cooked it longer to reflect size and height.
At the end I put the dish under broil for two minutes, to brown the béchamel. I think 60-90 seconds would have brought about a better appearance, but the browning did not burn at two minutes.
Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 30-60 minutes to allow the eggplant to sit with salt.
Cook Time:35 minutes (cooking meat sauce while eggplants roast) + 10 minutes (bechamel) +
Rest Time: Not needed.
Leftovers?: Yes, reheat in oven.
Papoutsakia: Greek Stuffed Eggplant / Aubergine
For the Eggplant proper:
- 1 regular eggplant
- 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt, pepper, oregano to taste (I used a LOT).
For the Meat Sauce:
- 0.5 pound 230 g ground beef and/or ground lamb
- 1.5 tablespoons high temperature cooking oil (I go for avocado)
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 medium fresh tomatoes chopped
- 7 oz (200 g) canned chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup (30 g) parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt, pepper to taste
For the Greek Béchamel Sauce:
- 0.63 cup /150 ml lukewarm milk
- 0.25 cup /15g all-purpose flour
- 0.25 cup /15g butter
- 1/3 cup /(28g parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 pinch of nutmeg, optional (but I used it)
- Ground white pepper to taste
In a small pot set to medium low range heat, add butter. Let it melt (but never burn). At this point add flour. Stir continuously for several minutes. Gradually add allotments of lukewarm milk (2-3 allotments) to this pot, stirring vigorously each time. Wait for the milk to fully mix in before adding the next allotment.
Once this is all mixed in, remove from the heat, and add nutmeg, cheese, salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to cool some before adding the egg yolk, to avoid pre-cooking the egg. Stir until your sauce thickens and it is all combined.
Pre-heat the oven to 355 °F / 180°C.
Fill each eggplant half with the meat sauce. Top with béchamel sauce. Bake in that oven for 30 minutes or until browning occurs. If it doesn’t brown at this point, broil between 1 to 2 minutes.
Top with freshly chopped parsley, and serve.
Oh, PS: I decided to freeze the rest of the milk. I only bought a quart since it isn’t a staple around here, but who knows when I might need/want it?