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Lamb Stew and Eggplant Cream

Serves 2 (with some leftovers)

This is my version of tas (das) kebabi, a Turkish lamb stew that supposedly originated in the 16th c.  It is served over an "eggplant cream" called sultan's delight (hűnkar begendi).  The stew cooks for 3 hours so plan ahead to make this dish for Sunday supper.  My version of the stew is a little spicy and blends well with the fairly bland eggplant cream.  You can make the stew less spicy by using less cayenne.

Ingredients for Lamb Stew

2-3 lamb shoulder chops
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup robust red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp powdered allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sugar
1/2 a yellow onion, coarsely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Ingredients for Eggplant Cream

1 Italian-style eggplant
2 TBS butter
1 TSB flour
1/2 cup milk
3 TBS kasseri cheese (or pecorino), coarsely grated

Stew Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
     
  2. Trim off all the fat from the lamb chops and remove any bones.
     
  3. Cut the lamb into 1 inch cubes.
     
  4. Brown the lamb cubes in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan that you can also put into the oven.  When browned, remove the cubes and use the same pan to sauté the onions and garlic.  When they are lightly browned, remove from pan and mix with lamb cubes.
     
  5. Deglaze the pan with red wine.  Add water and spices, sugar, tomatoes and the lamb/onion mixture.
     
  6. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, cover and place in a preheated oven.  Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove to stove top and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes to reduce the liquid.  The stew should be thick and dark.

Eggplant Preparation

  1. While the stew is cooking, bake the whole eggplant at 400º F on a baking sheet lined with foil for about 30 minutes.
     
  2. When the eggplant is very soft remove from the oven and let it cool.  When it is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and scrap off any eggplant that remains on the skin.  Discard the skin.
     
  3. Separate the lobes of the eggplant and scrap away as much of the seeds as possible.
     
  4. Place the eggplant in a colander to drain for a few minutes while you make the béchamel.
     
  5. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour.  Cook the flour/butter mixture for  few minutes, then gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to keep it from lumping.
     
  6. Cook the béchamel for a few minutes, then scrap it into a large bowl.  Add the drained eggplant and mash lightly with a pastry blender.  (Do not puree the eggplant and do not over mash it.  You want it to have some texture.)  Add the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  At this point, the eggplant cream can either be kept warm on your stove top or reheated in the oven when ready to serve.

Serving

  1. Spread a dollop of the hot eggplant cream in a warm, shallow individual bowl and top with a ladleful of stew.
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