Sunday, June 24, 2012

Karniyarik (Stuffed Eggplants with Meat)

Oh, it's been forever!

Within the past couple of months, I've changed jobs, gotten a new camera lens, and cooked plennnty, but somehow it was difficult to sit down and write about the deliciousness I'd been concocting. I've missed it, because it's so useful for record-keeping and analyzing what I can do better next time. So I'm back!

Tonight I adapted a recipe from Claudia Roden's Arabesque--eggplant stuffed with meat (or karniyarik), a Turkish dish that benefits from the Season of Eggplant I'm thoroughly enjoying.

First I took the eggplants, trimmed the stems, and divided the skin into 1/2-inch segments, peeling every other one. Then I soaked them in a bowl of cold salted water for thirty minutes.

I drained the vegetables on paper towels. While they dried, I heated up two tablespoons of sunflower oil in a Dutch oven. I added the eggplants to the heat, one at a time, and browned them on all sides until they were lightly golden.

I let the eggplants drain once more on paper towels and heated up two more tablespoons of oil in my cast-iron skillet. I put the onions on, stirring them occasionally, until they were translucent soft. To this I added ground beef and cooked it for five minutes, separating and pressing it down into the oil with a fork. At this point, I stirred in the diced tomato, tomato paste, cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper, and parsley. I lowered the heat and let the beef simmer.

Meanwhile I preheated the oven to 350 and sliced lengthwise slits into each eggplant on one of the bare strips, leaving an inch margin on either end. At this point, I need to recommend that you get skinnier eggplants than I did. I worked with what WalMart had, which wasn't entirely satisfactory and I had to roast the dish for ten minutes longer and still wasn't able to brown it all through. Close though! And still delicious.

Anyhow! I slit the eggplants and pried them open, pressing the sides to create a wider hollow. Then I took the beef off heat and spooned it into the pocket. I laid the beautiful nightshades side-by-side in a large baking dish and topped each with a tomato slice. I poured half a cup of tomato juice into the dish, covered it with foil, and put it in the oven for 50 minutes. (If you are able to acquire skinnier eggplants, I'd go for 40.)

During this period, I made falafel from a box mix from World Market, and it turned out much better than the falafel I tried to make a year and a half ago before I owned a food processor.

Then I took the eggplants out of the oven and dug in!

Karniyarik (Stuffed Eggplants with Meat) 
(adapted from Arabesque by Claudia Roden)
Serves 2-3
2 thin, medium-size eggplants
sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
8 oz. lean ground beef
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tomato (half diced, half sliced)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup tomato juice

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