Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lamb and Eggplant Casserole

If you don’t care for lamb, skip this one. If you do, you’re in for a treat. My daughter requested this casserole, inspired by a French recipe, for her birthday this weekend. (I used gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs with no harm to the finished dish, as both my daughter and son-in-law try to limit their gluten intake.)

The vegetables disintegrate during baking to form a fantastic sauce for the meat. I served the casserole with Roasted Beet Salad with Crème de Cassis Dressing. A wonderful meal for a chilly December evening!

LAMB and EGGPLANT CASSEROLE
3 lbs. lean lamb (leg or shoulder) cut into 1½-inch cubes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Salt
2 medium-large Vidalia onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2½-3lbs. small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes
1 14-oz. can low salt chicken broth
Bouquet garni of fresh thyme, bay leaves, parsley, and a few black peppercorns

For the Topping:
4-5 slices of good white bread, crusts removed (2 cups fresh breadcrumbs)
3 fat garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup fresh parsley
5 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Coat a heavy skillet with a little olive oil. Heat to medium-high. Brown the lamb in batches, adding as little oil as possible and a small sprinkling of salt. Transfer to a large casserole or deep baking pan.
3. Add the onions to the same pan and stir-fry until they are soft and tinged with brown. Add to the lamb.

4. In the same pan, brown the eggplant in batches, adding a little salt and a touch of oil if the pan gets too dry. Add eggplant to lamb and onions.

5. Add broth to the to the casserole. Stir well, tucking in bouquet garni. Bake uncovered for 90 minutes, or until lamb is tender, stirring 2-3 times during baking.

6. Discard bouquet garni. (I transfer the casserole to a Corning Ware serving casserole at this stage, but that’s not necessary. Casserole may be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat, covered, in a low oven until bubbly before continuing.)

7. While the casserole is baking, tear bread into pieces and place in food processor to make bread crumbs. Add garlic while processor is running.

8. Heat oil in large skillet. Melt butter in oil and add breadcrumbs. Stir to coat with oil/butter mixture. Add parsley. Reserve mixture until casserole is ready.

9. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over casserole and broil until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Turn casserole as necessary for even browning. Serve at once. Serves 4-6.

2 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this recipe, Pat. I'm planning on making lamb for Christmas dinner. Perhaps I'll try this. :)

    Happy Holidays!

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  2. Dawn, the kids are not only trying the gluten-free thing, they're not eating red meat, but decided they could enjoy lamb now and then. They certainly enjoyed this one, an old family favorite I discovered in a French Country cookbook years ago. My late father-in-law loved it. If you try it, I'm sure you'll love it too!

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