I would like to introduce yet another yummy recipe with ‘The Glorious Brinjal’ being the show-stopper! Yes, we all do love a Mousaka, whether it is a vegetarian or meat version – it’s always is a winner. The title for today’s recipe could possibly ‘play’ part of ýou’re Greek lesson, as the Greek word for Little Slippers is our recipe for today. Yes, the good old, PAPOUTSAKIA (Little Slippers). The greatness of this dish, is that it probably takes less than half the time it would have if you were to have prepared a Mousaka – and it is just as Delish!
Here goes …..
Olive Oil for frying
3 Melizana (Eggplant / Brinjal) – preferrably the long ones
1 Large Onion, finely chopped (one garlic clove if desired)
200 grams of ground beef or lamb
2 Tablesppons of tomato puree
3 Large fresh tomatoes, diced, or canned
1 Slice of toast, grated
Dash of paprika, freshly ground pepper, salt, brown sugar
1 Cup hard cheese (kefalotiri, or ladotyri
3 Tablespoons butter
2.5 Tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons flour
1.5 cups of milk
1 Egg (beaten)
Wash and trim the stalks from the brinjals (pierce the brinjal once) before placing in a pan with olive oil. Ensure to turn constantly in order to darken and soften the flesh all-round. Allow to cool and cut each brinjal lenthways in half. Remove most of the pulp from the centre (setting aside), allowing for approximately 1 cm of flex on the edges. You want to create little boats, or slippers, as the title of the recipe states.
Lightly fry the finely chopped onions in the olive oil, adding the pulp that you had set aside, continue adding the mince meat, tomato puree, a pinch of brown sugar, chopped tomatoes, (garlic) ground cinnamon and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring in the grated toast crumbs and half of the cheese.
Prepare a greased baking sheet with the brinjal halves, and stuff the brinjals with the mince mixture.
Bechamel sauce for topping:
Melt the butter and stir in the flour slowly, ensuring that the flour dissolves smoothly. Stir in the milk (room temperature), allowing the sauce to thicken slowly. Allow for the sauce to cool down before adding the beathen egg and the remaining cheese.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the stuffed brinjals and bake (sprinkle the nutmeg over the bechamel sauce) in a pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes. Serve hot with a fresh garden salad and roast vegetables.
Serves 3, or 6, as a main course.
p.s. They taste even better the next day (also easy to freeze and reheat)
By Demetrios Voulgarellis