Believed to have originated in France in the 18th century, the timbale is a drum-shaped mould which was originally used to cook savoury, custard-based dishes. The name also refers to the dish itself, commonly a mixture of poultry, seafood, vegetables or forcemeat which is baked inside the timbale mould. The result is sometimes likened to a crustless quiche. Eggplant is a staple vegetable in French cooking, used in ratatouille, casseroles and the favourite eggplant farci (eggplant stuffed with a pork filling). Here, we’ve placed the traditional farci filling in timbale moulds lined with chargrilled eggplant, to create a pretty (and delicious) effect.
1.2 kg eggplant, cut lengthwise into 5 mm slices
250 g sausage mince or beef mince (not lean)
125 g pork rashers (see Note), chopped
100 g smoked leg ham, finely chopped
2 eschalots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to serve
salad, to serve
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.
You will need 6 x 185 ml-capacity ramekins for this recipe.
To make filling, finely chop 4 eggplant slices. Place in a bowl and combine with sausage mince, pork rashers, ham, eschalots, garlic, eggs and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Heat a large chargrill pan over high heat. Brush both sides of the remaining eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate.
Grease 6 x 185ml-capacity ramekins, then line with the eggplant slices, allowing ends to overhang slightly. Divide filling among ramekins, pressing down firmly, then fold in overhanging eggplant to enclose filling.
Drizzle with extra oil and place timbales on an oven tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm and filling is cooked through. Invert ramekins to release timbales. Drizzle with extra oil and serve with salad.
Pork rashers are narrow strips of pork belly. Sometimes they contain a bone, but most often they are without. Remove bones if there are any.
Drink 2011 La Bohème Act Two Dry Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley, Victoria ($20)
Photography Chris Chen