Thursday, September 1, 2011

page 360 recipe # 229 To braise eggplant - that is, pomi sdegnisi

Get eggplants that are not too ripe or too bitter, and clean off the purplish skin they have- although you do find white ones- and cut them lenghthwise into several pieces. Let them steep for half an hour; discard that water and set them to boil in a pot in fresh water that is lightly salted. When they are well cooked, take them out and let them drain on a table. Have an earthenware baking dish or a tourte pan ready with oil; carefully flour the pieces and make a layer of them in the pan. Get beaten mint, sweet marjoram, burnet and parsley, and beaten fresh fennel tips or ground dry fennell along with crushed garlic cloves, and scatter all that over the layer of eggplant, as well as enough pepper, cinnamon, cloves and salt; splach verjuice on that and sprinkle it with sugar. Repeat, making up two or three layers. Cook it the way a tourte is done. When it is done, serve it hot in dishes with the Broth over it. If it is not a fasting day you can put slices of provatura or ordinary cheese and grated bread between each layer; and instead of oil, use butter.

It is very important that you both soak the eggplant and that you salt the water for boiling. I have forgotten or skipped these steps and came up with an inferior product in the end.
When slicing the eggplant you are looking for eggplants with a thickness of about .5 cm or 1/4 of an inch thick.
When you boil them you want them to maintain some firmness so that they are easily handled in order to flour them.
I add salt and pepper to the flour.
I have crushed the garlic in a press as well as sliced it. It seems the crushed garlic gives a better dispersal of the flavor. Alot is not needed! 2-3 cloves per batch is sufficient. This of course depends on how much of a garlic flavor is desired.
Mint: by accident I had omitted the mint in my first test batch but when the mint was added it was a magnitude better. The heat of the garlic with the cool of mint makes a unique combination that even seems to please the "modern palate"
Lacking verjuice I had substituded instead rosewater, this seems to be acceptable to the palate and doesn't change or hinder the flavor at all. I have also left out the verjuice and the rosewater substitution and had very good luck.
The broth refered to in the recipe I have taken to mean the broth from which the eggplant is drained. I have reserved some and found that a tiny amount is all that is needed, maybe an 1/8th of a cup. You don't want the dish to be "swimming".
I baked the dish at about 350 - 375 f (170-180c) for roughly 1/2 hr to 45 min. This depends on if there is cheese in it or not. You want sufficient time for it to melt and meld with the flavors but not too much time as to make the eggplant "soggy" or "mushy".

The first time I made this dish it was a smashing success and has continued to be so every time it has been served. Highly recomended even for people who do not normally like eggplants.