A Moderate Success

18/01/2003

This time I did the research. From The Soprano's Cookbook, Eggplant Parmigiana and from Willi Elsener -- A World of Flavours, Old-fashioned Pork Stroganoff.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Trim the eggplants and cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let them drain for 30 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a large deep skillet and heat over a medium heat. Fry the slices in batches, in a single layer, turning once, until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350F

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in a shallow baking dish. Make a layer of eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly. Top with a layer mozzarella , another layer of sauce and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Repeat the layering ending with eggplant, sauce and grated cheese.

Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the mozzarella is melted. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This time I did what I was told -- up to a point. I didn't measure that sauce or the cheese, I just used what I thought I needed for the amount of eggplant I had. I should have had bigger eggplants I think. but as this was intended as a starter, the fact that it didn't make a whole lot didn't really matter. I suppose it's usually an anti-pasta or side dish anyway. I used pre-made Marinara sauce, but it was a good one, and I probably wouldn't have done any better. This was a success, getting the thumbs up from everyone.

Old-fashioned Pork Stroganoff

Oven temperature: 170C/325F/Gas mark 3

Pork

Heat the vegetable oil in a non stick pan. Season the cubes of pork with salt and freshly ground pepper and add about a quarter of them to the pan. Brown the cubes on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in an oven proof dish. Repeat until all the pork is browned.

Sauce

Using the same pan and the oil remaining in it, sweat the shallots, chilli pepper and garlic until the shallots are translucent but not coloured. Stir in the paprika and flour. Add the red wine and stock. Bring quickly to the boil, then pour this sauce over the meat. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. or until the meat is cooked.

Remove from the oven and add the mushrooms and red pepper. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to cook the pepper.

To Finish

Remove from the oven and stir in the sour cream, gherkins and mustard. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

As I was cooking for the children too (or so I thought, it didn't actually turn out that way) I dialed back a bit on the spicy ingredients. This backfired and the dish was a bit bland in the end. I suspect that the paprika I used was old and tasteless, making it blander than it should be. I also notice (as I type the recipe in) that I had double the amount of red wine which might have diluted it a bit. Things I left out were the gherkins (on purpose) the red pepper (by mistake) and the sour cream. I used Greek yogurt instead of the cream but maybe not enough.

I liked this well enough but thought that there was too much work in it and I could have cooked something as nice in much less time.

cook