So, I mentioned a while back that I was tackling this Turkish dish a while back and I said I'd do a photo thing on it. So here it is:
You will need:
2 lbs. or almost 1 kilo of eggplant, charred
1 lb. lamb shoulder (I used two mutton shoulder chops but any red meat with bones and lots of connective tissue is good), cubed into 1 inch cubes
2 yellow onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced and seeded
1 big hot pepper (I used Serrano), diced and seeded
4 tomatoes, diced and seeded
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
A few sprigs of oregano
Some flat parsely
2 cups of milk
2 TBSPS heavy cream
1 TBSP tomato paste (canned is fine)
4 TBSPS butter, plus one knob for the meat
3 TBSPS flour (any)
2 cups of stock
1 cup of grated hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano (I used Pecorino Romano because it's made from ewe's milk, in keeping with the mutton thing)
Basically, this is two dishes: the lamb/mutton and then the eggplant puree that the lamb/mutton rests on. I guess you could also use beef or any other red meat.
First, prep your eggplant by rubbing them down with vegetable oil and sprinkling with sea salt. The oil and the salt are not for flavor, but to better conduct heat and to draw out moisture.
Next, put it under the broiler, set on high. Better yet, use a grill. I didn't because it was raining most of the day.
While the eggplant is charring, cube the meat.
Once the meat is cubed, cover it and stick it in the fridge for a while. Take the bones from the meat and make 2 cups of stock. So, bones in water with a little salt and if you want to get fancy, a bay leaf, a quarter of an onion, a third of a carrot and a third of a celery stalk (I didn't bother). Set it to boil and then let it simmer a good long while. When you are done, chuck them bones.
When the entire outside of the eggplant is charred and the skin is splitting, take it out and peel the skin off. Remove as many seeds as possible and place the flesh in a colander to drain.
You should end up with this:
Take that colander (or a sieve) and put it in a bowl of cold water. Mix in the lemon juice and a little salt. This keeps the eggplant from discoloring and allows the bitter black water to come out of the flesh.
At this point you can continue on to the meat, or you can be like me and take a break. I took the dog out and we saw some turkeys, by coincidence.
On to the meat. Cut up your peppers, onions and tomatoes and grate your garlic.
Next, get the meat out of the fridge and melt your knob of butter in a big saucepan and add an equal amount of olive oil. Liberally season the meat with salt and pepper. When the fat is hot, brown the meat.
Once all sides are browned, set the meat aside, leaving all the fat in the pan. Add the bay leaves at this point and saute your onions and peppers in the fat until soft. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook some of the liquid off. Once the mix is a bit dry (but not browning) re-add your meat and stir it together. At this point, your stock should be ready. Add 2 cups of it and the tomato paste to the meat and the vegetables so you get this:
Bring that all to a boil and let it simmer, uncovered for an hour. Add the oregano and thyme at this point. You can pull the leaves off, or be lazy like me and just tie all the sprigs together with twine and throw it in. Now, back to the eggplant. Transfer your eggplant to a fine mesh strainer/sieve and pour the water from the bowl through it so you get all the eggplant. This way, it is also easy to get out any stray seeds or charred eggplant skin. Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set it aside.
Next, start making a bechamel sauce by melting 4 TBSPS (1/2 stick) of butter in a wide pan. Wide is good because it helps to evaporate liquid and we want a pretty thick sauce.
Once the butter has bubbled, add 3 TBSPS of flour and whisk it together.
You want the roux (the flour and butter) to smell very nutty. As always with a roux, do not burn it or your sauce will be terrible. If you burn the roux, turn down your burner and start again. Once it smells really nice, add your milk and heavy cream, a little bit at a time, making sure to whisk constantly until it is velvety and smooth. Allow it to cook for a little while before adding a little salt and pepper. Then add your eggplant and allow it to cook together for about 10 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper and some nutmeg. Add your cheese and allow to cook for a few minutes more.
At the end of the hour, remove your meat from the heat and add chopped parsley as a garnish.
Serve the meat over the eggplant like so.
I'm really happy how this came out and I would definitely make it again!
Thanks 8bit for the help!
nowaypablo, even though I used mutton the meat was very tender and because it is basically a ragout, it was not at all dry.
Edit: This serves about 4 people. Totally worth it though. Highly recommended.