Saturday, 21 July 2012

Aubergine Parmigiana

Dish: Aubergine Parmigiana

Difficulty: Fairly easy

Utensils Used: Colander, wooden spoon

Cock Ups: 2, but one, as you'll see, was not my fault

Serves: Original recipe serves 6, but I halved all the ingredients so mine serves 3

Recipe Book: River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Cooking: The Boyfriend and I are recent converts to the delights of aubergines. As a vegetarian, I should have come round much sooner, as they are pretty much a staple in a lot of vegetarian meals. I've always avoided them though, thinking they were slimy. I must have had a badly cooked one at some point in my childhood, as slimy is no longer an adjective I associate with them. Delicious, yes.

So after the insanity of the Spoufflé last week, today's Disaster Kitchen was a lot more sedate. Not entirely intentionally.

The recipe starts with trimming the ends off two medium sized aubergines, then slicing them lengthways, about 3-5mm in thickness. Kinda tricky when they bell out at the bottom, but I got fairly regular sized slices. They then needed to be put in a colander, lightly salted, for an hour to draw out the juices.

My colander is ridiculously small and isn't one of those that is freestanding, so I had to balance it in a pan, which created more washing up, but oh well.

While they were... juicing? I started heating about a tablespoon of olive oil in a 'very large, wide pan.' Well, all I had was a wok, so I used that. And speaking of things I don't have... Cock up one - if there was a tablespoon of olive oil in the wok, it was a very small one. Despite standing the bottle of oil on its head for a while. Vegetable oil it is. It might not have that same Mediterranean richness, but it's better than onions sticking to the bottom of the pan.

One onion and two cloves of garlic were chopped and fried gently on a medium heat for about ten minutes, 'until soft' (read: slightly brown in places where I didn't stir it properly). And here comes the cock up that wasn't my fault. The Boyfriend asked for dinner for about half seven, but then phoned me to say he was picking up a free table to replace our wobbly drop leaf one, and couldn't I put dinner off half an hour? I tried. I really did. But it's difficult to drop out of something and pick it back up again, so it ended up being closer to half eight than eight, and the onions were left standing for quite a long time.

Can't figure out how to rotate photos on blogger, so if the perspective looks a little weird there, that's why!

By the time I'd delayed the dinner enough to be 'ready' for eight, the aubergines had well and truly juiced. I wasn't sure what this meant, but apparently the salt draws out all the goo from inside them. Nice.

They were then washed and placed on a piece of kitchen towel to dry off.

Meanwhile, I was reheating my now chilly onions and garlic, adding two cans of plum tomatoes, which I roughly chopped in the pan, but didn't try to remove any stalky ends as instructed. I couldn't really see any stalk, but some of the ends were a bit tough, and could probably have done with removing, but I didn't fancy making the mess.

That was brought to a vigorous simmer, and left to boil down for about half an hour. It needed regular stirring, quite apart from stopping it sticking, it stopped it spitting everywhere all over my nice clean hob. I remembered the seasoning this time, although I didn't have a bay leaf to cook in it.

While that was cooking down, the aubergine slices were cooked in olive *cough* vegetable oil on a medium heat, a few minutes on each side until golden. I found it kind of difficult to judge when something purple and green went 'golden' but when they started smelling delicious, I figured that meant they were sufficiently cooked.

After that, it just needed to be put together and baked. A third of the aubergine slices is placed at the bottom of an oven proof dish, a third of the tomato sauce layered on top of that, followed by a third of a ball of mozzarella, broken into pieces, and a generous sprinkling of grated hard cheese. 

Rinse and repeat two times, and it's ready to go!

Cook in a preheated oven at 180 for about 20 minutes. The recipe says 30-40, but with it being smaller portions, I halved the cooking time as well. It needs to be golden and bubbling on the top, which after twenty minutes it was, so I think I improvised correctly there.

Washing Up Required: Less if you have a real colander, but overall not that much.

Result: Even with my bodged timings it looked and smelled delicious when it came out of the oven, perfectly bubbly and golden.

Taste Test: The Boyfriend, trying to describe what he thought:

'It is what it is, isn't it? I can taste what is in it.'

When he realised I would be posting this on the blog, he added:

'The aubergines are cooked perfectly. And I like this mush... But I prefer brown sauce.'

I thought it wasn't as nice as the restaurant version I had a while back which alerted me to this recipe, but then that probably had eight tonnes of salt and flavourings in it, where as mine tasted fresh and healthy. And the aubergines were perfectly cooked, if I do say so myself.

Overall Verdict: A slightly time consuming dish, though if done properly, the sauce could be reducing while the aubergines are juicing etc, which would reduce cooking time. However, it's dead easy, and really filling. Double up the quantities and the cooking time, and you have a perfect meal for a dinner party!

Parmigiana! (and again, dodgy camera angle. Sorry)

1 comment:

  1. The Boyfriend has such a wonderful way with words... :P