Chris (chrisjournal) wrote,

Eggplant amazingness

Just a quickie...

I promised this recipe, and found the book, so here it is. Galatoire's is my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world, his cookbook is my most well-used cookbook, and this dish encapsulates everything I adore about New Orleans creole cooking.

Copyright 1994 by Leon Galatoire, alterations in () by Chrisjournal


1 large eggplant
1 cup water
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2c. clarified butter (I cheat usually and just use plain melted, but the clarified makes a diff)
4T chopped green onions (I don't usually measure this. I chop a couple handfuls.)
1 c. chopped shrimp (again with the not measuring precisely -- I like this heavy on the seafood)
1c. jumbo lump crab meat (don't cheat on this -- get the good stuff; it's worth it)
1c. Bechamel sauce (recipe to follow this one)
Salt to taste (I like it a bit heavy on the salt and pepper)
1/8 tsp white pepper (I generally up this to 1/4)
Pinch cayenne pepper (my pinch is generous)
3T finely chopped parsley, reserving 1T for garnish
2T fine bread crumbs mixed with 1T parmesan cheese
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Remove stem from eggplant, and quarter lengthwise. Place in 8x10 baking dish with water and vinegar (note: I salt *lightly* and use a glass dish). Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes until very tender. Remove and cool. Carefully remove pulp, keeping skin intact for stuffing.

In a saucepan, saute the green onions in half of the clarified butter (here's where the clarification helps: doesn't burn as fast, but I like the nuttiness that comes with the browning) over LOW heat until tender. Chop eggplant pulp (I like it chopped very small, others like it chunkier) and add to pan. Add the chopped shrimp and the crabmeat and slowly simmer (it's important not to be rough with cooking this dish). Fold in the Bechamel sauce and season with salt, white pepper, cayenne, and 2T parsley. (I usually add a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice at this point, too -- just a good squeeze). Allow mixture to cool completely as this will cause it to thicken and become easier to stuff.

Spoon an equal amount of stuffing into each eggplant shell (sometimes, I skip the stuffing part and just put the stuff into a glass baking dish, if it's a party and I'm doubling). Sprinkle with bread crumb/cheese mixture, dot with remaining butter, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Garnish with reserved parsley and lemon wedge. Serves 4 (as a light main dish, with good bread and a green salad, e.g. I love this as a "pita wedge" or bruschetta topping, as well. In fact, there are a thousand good ways to eat this stuff, including with the spoon, hovering over the stovetop and utterly ignoring that there are people salivating for the goods).

(ETA: I have also done this with chopped crawfish tails -- don't go over about 2.5 c of seafood overall, or it gets to be too much, but you can alter the proportions to suit your palate)

Bechamel Sauce

(this recipe quarters successfully)

4c milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
pinch cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/2 c white wine (use drinkable, if not great, wine -- the better the wine, the better the sauce. I prefer chardonnay for this purpose)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream, reserved (sometimes you won't need this, but it adds richness)

In a small pot, heat the milk to a simmer. Reduce heat and add salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaf, and white wine. Simmer for a few minutes (maybe five?).
In a separate pot, melt butter on low heat and add the flour, constantly stiring with a wire whisk (this is a roux-- don't let this mixture get brown, but do cook it through for a couple minutes. The smell will get a bit nutty, but the color should still be pasty, not brown, when you stop cooking it. If anybody wants a full dissertation on roux and the varying stages/uses, holler, and I'll do one up someday)
Strain the milk (yeah, do it right) through a sieve, and pour (in a thin stream) into the roux pot, stirring constantly (with your whisk). The sauce will (begin to) thicken. (Add a bit of cream.)

Allow to simmer for about (at least) 5 minutes on low heat.

(If it gets too thick, or if you have to let it sit a while and need to reheat, mix in more cream and remember to use *low* heat and constant stirring. Also, if you press a piece of waxed paper cut into the right shape for your pot down on the surface of the sauce after it's cooled a bit, it should prevent a skin from forming).

(Bechamel is used in lots of creole dishes, and also in making traditional lasagne. And, of course, the queen of eggplant recipes ;-)

ETA2: I have successfully made this bechamel with skim milk, and I do sometimes put in the traditional pinch of nutmeg, but like it better without for this use.
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