Monday, August 20, 2012
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Eggplant fry time: 20 minutes
Lamb fry time: 8 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
Total cook time: 2 hours
3 medium eggplants (1 pound each), sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds lean ground lamb
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons brandy
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons thyme
1 can (35 ounces) Italian peeled tomatoes, drained well and chopped
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup heavy cream
prepare the eggplant and potatoes:
Place a colander over a plate, layer eggplant slices in colander sprinkling each layer liberally with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. This will remove the bitterness from the eggplant. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
fry the eggplant:
Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over high heat. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour; shake off any excess. Add the eggplant to the skillet in batches and fry over high heat, using up to an additional 3/4 cups of oil as necessary, until all the eggplant slices have been browned (about 2 minutes per side). Drain the fried eggplant on paper towels to remove excess oil. Reserve the largest and most attractive slices to top the Moussaka.
cook the onions and lamb:
Wipe the skillet clean. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and heat over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no traces of pink remains (about 10 minutes).
bring it all together:
1. Transfer the lamb mixture to a colander and drain, then return it to the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, brandy, cinnamon, thyme, and pepper. Cook over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring to blend flavors. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the tomatoes, reserved potatoes, and the feta cheese; stir well to combine.
2. Preheat oven to 350º. Line the bottom and sides of a 5- to 6-quart, shallow baking dish with the fried eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly. Reserve about 30 of the best looking eggplant slices for the top of the Moussaka.
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and the heavy cream. Spoon half the meat mixture into the lined baking dish, pour on half the egg and heavy cream mixture, and top with ½ the fried egg plant. Repeat with the remaining meat and egg mixture. Cover with the reserved eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly in a decorative pattern.
bake the Moussaka:
Bake until the egg mixture is set and the top is nicely browned (about 45 minutes).
Let the baked Moussaka stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Slice the Moussaka in 8 equal sized portions and serve accompanied by Spanakopita, Pitakopita and/or a Greek salad.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Crispy Pork Chops in Curry Sauce
The first time we tasted this meal was on our trip to Taiwan to meet our daughter-in-laws family. Unlike American pork chops, these delicious breaded and fried scallopini are fragrant with the subtle taste of Chinese five spice supported by the taste of the Char Siu Sauce they are marinated in, the longer they are marinated the more fragrant they become. When we visit our son and Taiwanese daughter-in-law in Southern California, this is one of the Asian specialties we look forward to.
Preparation time: up to 2 hours
Chop cooking time: up to 20 minutes
Golden Curry Sauce cook time: 15 minutes
Total cook time: 35 minutes
Taiwanese crispy pork chops:
4 – ¾ inch, boneless pork chops
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Taiwanese michiu wine (substitute Japanese Mirin)*
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder*
1 teaspoon Char Siu Sauce* (Chinese barbecue sauce [DO NOT substitute American Barbecue sauce])
3-4 cloves garlic, micro-planed
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup sweet potato flour* (acceptable substitutes are tapioca or corn starch)
Peanut or vegetable oil sufficient for frying
golden curry sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ to ½ cup chopped onion
¼ to ½ cup sliced carrots
1 2/3 cups water
1 3.5 ounce golden curry sauce mix (I recommend S&B brand medium hot)*
Taiwanese crispy pork chops:
1. One at a time, place each pork chop in a large, re-sealable plastic bag and pound the chop into a thin (1/2 to ¼ - inch thick) scallopini and set aside in the refrigerator.
2. When all the pork chops have been pounded, create a marinade by combining the soy sauce, the michiu wine, the white pepper, the five-spice, the barbeque sauce, and the micro-planed in a small mixing bowl. Once the marinade has been created, pour it into a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Place the pork chops into the bag and seal, squeezing out as much air as possible. Allow the pork chops to marinate for several hours, turning the bag every so often, to allow all the flavours to develop.
3. When the pork chops have marinated for several hours, build a breading station by placing the sweet potato starch, the beaten egg, and the Panko bread crumbs in three separate plates. Bread each of the pounded pork chops by first dredging each in the sweet potato flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the Panko bread crumbs
4. Once each of the pork chops have been breaded on both sides heat enough vegetable oil to fill a large, heavy bottomed frying pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch over medium high heat and fry the pork chops, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
golden curry sauce:
1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the chopped onions and sliced carrots and saute until the onions are slightly browned and the carrots are softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add water and bring to a boil, as soon as the water comes to a rolling boil remove the pan from the heat. Break up the golden curry mix into pieces and add to the water, carrots, and water stirring until all the pieces of curry mix are dissolved. If the sauce seems too "tight" add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until the sauce "loosens up" to your satisfaction.
Serve by plating cooked, plain white rice on each of 4 service plates, place one Taiwanese crispy pork chop on top of that on each plate, and top each plate with ¼ of the golden curry sauce. Serve hot.
* easily found on the Asian or Oriental products aisle in most supermarkets