Papoutsakia translates to little shoes in Greek. These stuffed eggplants are one of the many ladera (la-the-ra) dishes, cooked with lots of good olive oil and served as a main course.
- 2 medium (600 g) eggplants
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 medium (150 g) onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 250 g beef mince
- 200 g tin tomatoes
- 2 tbsp (50 g) tomato paste
- 1 tbsp (20 g) butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 120 g kefalotiri, kefalograviera or kasseri (or parmesan) cheese, grated
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line a medium baking dish with baking paper.
2. Halve the eggplants lengthways and carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1 cm border. Dice the flesh finely and reserve.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the eggplant halves, skin side down, until wilted and slightly brown. Turn over and fry on the other side until brown, approximately 10 minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Place cut side up in the prepared baking dish.
4. Using the same frying pan add the remaining oil. Fry the onions and garlic over low heat, stirring frequently. When soft, add the beef and eggplant flesh, stirring frequently to brown well. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Mix well and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until it froths. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the milk, whisking continuously, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the nutmeg, egg yolk and cheese. Whisk until smooth.
6. Spoon the meat mixture equally between eggplant halves, pressing in firmly. Pour over the béchamel sauce and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through and the tops are golden.
• This recipe can be easily doubled or even tripled for a crowd.