I looked into my fridge and saw two large beautiful eggplants, and fresh cream. Fresh oregano growing out on the back stoop, and some extremely large ripe tomatoes sitting on my window sill. Not to mention the large new potatoes in the basket on the island. They all needed something to be done with them. Oh I would have my fresh tomato sandwich today with Duke's Mayo, but I had more to work into something. It would be horrible for them to go bad. I knew how delicious they were because we got those from Robin in the Lake Swamp Area. Locals you know what I mean. Today's recipe in my Southern Style!
2 large eggplants
5-6 large new red skinned potatoes (3 inches in diameter or more)
1 pound extra lean good Angus ground beef
1 large onion chopped finely
3 Huge fresh tomatoes (wonderful homegrown by you or someone you know for best taste)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
White Be'chamel Sauce
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter
4 Tbs self rising flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 medium whole eggs beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 slices of bread, pulse in processor for fresh bread crumbs.
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
Wash and slice eggplants 1/4 inch thick
Sprinkle a little salt and place in a large colander for 30 minutes to drain the liquid from them.
After 30 minutes rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels
Place on large baking sheet drizzle with a little olive oil, place in oven under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes. Keep watch on them, when hard tender (you don't want them too soft) remove from pan add others if you have more. Remove all from pan and set aside for use later.
Wall well peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Put into pot with water just covering them and cook until just fork tender not over done. Drain Remove from hot pot and sit aside to cool.
Peel and cube tomatoes place in pot heat thoroughly on medium to medium low heat stirring often
Add garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar and stir. Turn lower is need be to keep warm.
Brown ground beef together with onions.
Drain excess water/fat from ground beef.
Add tomato mixture to frying pan with beef.
Stir, heat through, taste for seasoning if you need more of anything then just add it now and cook until sauce is cooked through and thickened some. Simmer with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid you may have in sauce. You don't want a huge amount of liquid in this sauce, but some will be fine and add flavor.
Keep warm on low.
In medium saucepan add butter melt on medium low heat.
Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk thoroughly and keep watch you don't want this to stick to pan and burn.
Cook flour/butter mixture for 1 good minute while whisking.
Add milk cream, then beaten eggs, whisking all the while, cook for a minute and then add nutmeg and Parmesan cheese.
You will want to whisk and watch for this mixture to thicken and it will thicken rather quickly.
Set this aside to cool slightly.
Brush large baking dish (mine is approximately 9 x 13 inches) with a little olive oil
Put 1/4 of the meat sauce on the bottom of baking dish
Layer potatoes (if you are using them next)
Layer the rest of the meat sauce
Add another layer of potatoes
Add final layer of eggplant
Pour or spoon white cheese sauce over this
Top with the bread crumbs
Bake 20-30 minutes.
Mine was done in 30.
Remove cool for a short while then tent to keep fairly warm until cutting into squares and serving.
This will be the last recipe here at Hibiscus House for awhile because I'll be writing my little cookbook. It won't be a major publication, I'll just print a certain number of them and let you know when published so you can buy one if you wish.
The taste for a finished product can be only be as good as the freshest and best tasting ingredients added to a recipe. That is the secret Add great for great taste. I have a local farmer with freshest veggies around and go a little way to a great butcher. I have farm fresh eggs from my backyard and that is the secret to good cooking.
You don't like meat or dairy well then leave out the meat, use water or vegetable broth, use olive oil for butter. There is always a substitution for something you like and use. Any recipe made can have substitutions or items removed to suit your tastes and needs, don't forget that.