Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.
After picking up some beautiful vegies from the Portobello Road markets I decided to turn some of them into dinner. The nice plump aubergines (eggplants) looked just perfect for a good stuffing, and our herbs have got to the point where they would be of some use. On returning home we wandered out to the shops; discovering that the local M&S has the completely retarded Saturday closing time of 18:00 we continued on to good old Tesco which is open until the rather more sensible hour of 22:00. Initially my intention was to get some pork mince for the stuffing, but on seeing some excellent looking “organic” lamb mince I changed the plan a little. When I cook nothing is ever really laid out neatly in advance – the food just sort of evolves through the cooking process into whatever comes out the other end. By the end of the process these are the ingredients that would have contributed to the final meal:
- 400g lean, medium-grind lamb mince
- 1 large aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 large brown onion
- 2 medium sweet red peppers (capsicum)
- 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- ½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander seed
- 500g tinned chopped tomato
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- (Or 500g of a good plain pasta sauce to replace both of the above)
- ½ tbsp of honey
- 100ml of sweet mead (or a girlie-wine, such as verdhello)
- A light textured natural yogurt
- Cheese (cheddar/tasty for more flavour or mozzarella)
And the process to go from all of that to dinner:
- Put garlic, sage, rosemary, cinnamom and pepper into a mortar and grind to a rough paste. Massage this paste through the lamb mince, cover and put in the fridge.
- Slice the aubergine in half lengthwise, cut (angled inwards) a boundary about ½ an inch from the edge then score the internal space. Hollow out the eggplant halves with a spoon leaving a shell about ½ an inch thick. Salt shells and innards and leave to drain in a colander (cut side down for shells). Let them have a good 20 to 30 minutes to drain.
- Finely dice the red pepper (roughly 3mm cubes) and the brown onion.
- Place the cumin and cardamom seeds into a dry saucepan and toast until aromatic, then put in the chili and coriander powders and toast for a little longer until slightly discoloured. Sprinkle toasted spiced over the chopped red pepper.
- Rinse and then pat dry the aubergine shells and innards. Lightly oil shells and place under grill, slightly brown both sides (okay, so you can’t really “brown” the skin – crisp it up a little) while continuing with the following steps. Chop the innards to roughly 5mm cubes.
- Place a little oil into the saucepan previously used to toast the spices, heat oil then fry chopped onion until translucent. Take lamb and crumble into the saucepan, add chopped eggplant and continue to fry until lamb browns. Add the mead and honey and keep on heat until most liquid evaporated. Now throw in the chopped aubergine innards and tomato (tinned+paste or pasta sauce). Continue to cook, the consistency should and think and chunky – be careful not to add too much tomato and thus make it too runny.
- Take the browned aubergine halves and place cut-side-up into an oven pan (it may help to secure them in position with some lightly rolled aluminium foil. Generously pack the halves with the lamb mixture, heaping as much above the eggplant as seems safe. If, as in my case, you have too much lamb mixture take the second red pepper, halve, clean, put into pan and fill just like the aubergine halves. Still got some leftover? Try to pack it in – else take a spoon and enjoy it.
- Lightly coat with natural yogurt and generously sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Place into oven preheated to about 200°C and bake until looks good and smells great (cheese on top should have just started to brown).
- EAT! We enjoyed this drizzled with natural yogurt and served on a bed of basmati rice and a glass of metheglin.
Half of this recipe was enough for a large dinner for two, with half left in the fridge for dinner some other night (also good cold for lunch).