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 CASSEROLE3 lbs. lean lamb (leg or shoulder) cut into 1½-inch cubes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed
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.
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.