Papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia – little shoes – is a classic and very popular Greek dish. The reason for its name will be apparent as soon as you see it. It is prepared from that most Hellenic of ingredients; Melitzanes, more widely known in the Western world by their English name [Eggplant], or their French name [Aubergines]. The ragoût part of the recipe can be made as outlined below, or you can use some pre-mixed bolognaise sauce if you happen to have any in the freezer.

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine.

¼ cup olive oil.

1 small onion, finely chopped.

300g lamb mince*.

½ cup red wine.

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes.

3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

½ cup of chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste.

½  cup of grated kefalotyri cheese**.

1 cup of Béchamel sauce***.

Method.

Trim the end off the aubergine and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, remove any seeds and dice it, and reserve, leaving a shell about 12-15mm thick; be careful not to cut through the skin. Set the shell aside.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a hot flame. Stir fry the onions until soft then stir in the diced aubergine pulp. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes then add the meat and the salt and pepper. Stir through and cook, stirring from time to time, until the meat is thoroughly sealed then add the wine, tomato paste and garlic. Stir through, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes [it needs to be nice and thick]. Stir in the parsley and set aside. Prepare the Béchamel.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the aubergine halves on an oiled roasting pan, sprinkle a little grated cheese at the bottom of each. Fill them with the ragoût, then spoon the Béchamel sauce over them. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until the Béchamel is brown. Serve with rice and a green salad.

Note: You will end up with far more ragoût than you need. It freezes well, so you can put it in an airtight container in the freezer and use it for Pasta Bolognaise or Moussaka another time.

Serves: 2.

*. Or beef mince.

**. If Kefalotyri cheese is unobtainable, parmesan is a good substitute.

**. See separate entry under ‘Sauces’.

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