Cooking With Metachat!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Taz's Eggplant (Aubergine) Gratin

Eggplant Gratin (via Richard Olney)

1 1/2 pounds eggplant (preferably, small, elongated variety), sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices (or, if large, sliced crosswise)

Olive oil for frying

Stewed tomatoes:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt, small pinch cayenne

Cheese Custard:

4 ounces ricotta or other fresh white cheese
1 egg
Salt, pepper
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan
About 1/2-cup heavy cream

Pepper
Handful fresh basil leaves and flowers
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the eggplant slices in hot olive oil until golden brown on both sides and tender at all point. Drain on paper toweling (for this quantity, the slices will probably have to be fried in three batches, additional oil being added to the pan for each).

Cook the onion in olive oil for some 15 minutes until soft and yellowed, but not colored. Add the garlic and the tomatoes, season, turn the flame high, tossing several times, until well heated, then simmer gently - for 16 minutes or so - until the tomatoes' liquid is almost completely reduced. Taste for salt.

Mash the white-cheese with a fork, mixing in the egg - first stirring, then beating. Season and stir in enough Parmesan to bring the mixture to the consistency of a thick paste, then stir in cream until a heavy but easily poured creamy consistency is achieved. Taste for salt.

Line the bottom of a gratin dish or shallow baking dish with half of the eggplant slices, grind over a bit of pepper, tear the basil leaves into tiny pieces, sprinkling the surface evenly with leaves and flowers, sprinkle lightly with cheese, and spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the surface. Gently press the remaining eggplant slices into place and spoon the cheese-custard mixture regularly over the entire surface. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and put into a fairly hot oven (425 to 450 degrees), turning it down after some 10 minutes to about 375 degrees, counting approximately 25 minutes or until the surface has swelled, no depression remaining in the center, and it is uniformly colored a rich golden brown.
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Definitely all you need with this is good bread and a crisp green salad. Everyone I've made it for has swooned.

(PS: I never bother to peel and seed the tomatoes, and the only time I happen to find basil with flowers is when I'm growing it myself.)

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