Lamb and Eggplant Chili

July 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

I don’t know why I didn’t grow any eggplants in my garden this year. I guess because there’s only so much room but I’ll be growing them next year for sure as I have now fallen in love with them.

Eggplants can be prepared in many different ways, but they do need help from the cook. The flesh is quite bland by itself, but add some garlic (lots), onions, tomatoes, spices like oregano, cumin and cinnamon, and bland becomes tasty, silky, a melt-in-your-mouth experience. (I told you I was in love).

Great on the grill, slice lengthwise then brush with olive oil, salt, pepper and then some mashed feta on top. Or for an appetizer: grill until soft, then top with pesto and big hunks of mozzarella. Make a quick supper: cut in half and brush with olive oil, then roast in oven until soft and tender. Top with a quick sauce of sauteed tomato, garlic and oregano and then a good grating of Parmesan on top. I think cheese and eggplant are match made in heaven. (in case you didn’t notice!)

Some say to salt the eggplants for about a half hour to remove the bitterness. But I’ve never done that and can’t say that I’ve ever tasted bitter. It might depend on the variety (heirlooms may lack the bitterness) and growing conditions, I’m really not sure.

Here’s a recipe combining another of my loves, ground lamb, with cubes of eggplant. It all comes together in about an hour once it’s all in the pot and cooking. It’s even better the next day after all the great flavors have melded. It’s even good cold, as I kept going to the fridge for bites all day. 🙂

I call this a chili, if only because of the ground meat. It’s not meant to be spicy, but you could certainly make it so by adding some chili peppers as it’s cooking.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant cut into cubes about an inch or so thick

1 1/2 lbs of ground lamb

1/2 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

crushed tomatoes 28 oz ( Pomi brand comes in aseptic packages, no BPA or try Muir Glen, they claim all their new canned products are BPA free)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

large pinch allspice

1 TBL oregano

olive oil for sauteing

feta, of course

Steps:

Add some olive oil to a good sized pot. Get it nice and hot and add the cubed eggplant. It will absorb some of the oil, that’s ok, let it brown without stirring too much. You may need to add more oil to the pot. Remove to a bowl.

Keeping the heat on medium, add the ground lamb and cook until no longer pink. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the eggplant bowl.

There will be some fat left in the pot depending on the lamb, pour some off so you’ll have about 3 TBL left.

Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook one minute. stirring.

Now put the eggplant and ground lamb back in, add the crushed tomatoes, the spices and salt and pepper to taste. I used about 3/4 tsp salt here. Cover and simmer 45 minutes, then adjust the seasonings.

To serve, put in bowls and top with a slice of feta. You could serve over rice, quinoa or couscous too.

This can serve 4.

illustration by me

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