Friday, 12 August 2016

Eggplant Cordon Bleu

Well I can't say this looks very glamorous, which is too bad, because it was quite fabulous. If I had been ambitious enough to run out and pick a little parsley or basil to garnish it might have helped. At any rate it did not sit around long enough for its looks to matter much. The list of ingredients is short and simple, and so is the technique, but the results are delicious!

I'm saying this takes an hour and a half to make, but an hour of that is salting the eggplant and letting it drain. This is less to pull out bitter compounds (not much of a problem with modern eggplants) than to soften it up and allow it to cook quickly, which in a pan it needs to do. I suppose you could bake this on a sheet of parchment paper, but I have not tried it. If I were to try it, I would do it at 375°F and bake it for 20 to 30 minutes. Could it take as long as 45 minutes? I don't know; I haven't tried it. This way was perfectly good.

2 servings
1 1/2 hours - 1/2 hour prep time

Sauteed Eggplant Stuffed with Ham and Cheese in Tomato Sauce

1 medium (450 grams; 1 pound) eggplant
100 grams (4 ounces) thinly sliced old Cheddar cheese
100 grams (4 ounces) thinly sliced lean ham
1 large egg
1/4 cup soft unbleached flour
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 to 1 cup tomato sauce

Trim the skin off 2 opposite sides of the eggplant, so as to leave them fairly flat. Cut off the stem and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Peel the remaining skin from the eggplant pieces. This should leave you with 2 very similar flat "filets" of eggplant. Carefully cut a pocket into one side of each filet, right through as close as you can reasonably get to the other side without detaching it, leaving about a 1/4" seam.

Salt the insides of the pockets and the outsides of the filets of eggplant. Lay them next to each other on a plate, top with another plate and put a weight on top. Leave for 1 hour to drain.

Rinse the eggplant pieces well, including the pockets, and press dry in a tea towel or a bit of paper towel. Fill the pockets with the cheese and ham, as evenly spread out in it as possible, with as little of it hanging out as possible. I trimmed off the overhangs and stuffed them back inside.

Sift the flour over the slices of eggplant, turning them to coat both sides. This is an approximate measure of flour; they should be evenly coated.

Beat the egg in a shallow bowl or plate with some sides to it, and coat the stuffed eggplant pieces all over in the egg. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat - no hotter.

Have the breadcrumbs ready in another shallow bowl or deep plate, and coat the eggplants pieces all over in the crumbs.  Fry them in the oil for 5 or 6 minutes each side, adding the extra tablespoon of oil when you turn them. Make sure they do not brown too fast, and if you have a spatter guard to put over them as they cook, so much the better.

Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce is a small pot and pour it over the cooked eggplant pieces just before serving.

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