The French are famous for stuffing vegetables. Often, a combination
of meat and seafood is used along with the vegetable as a stuffing
mixture. In this case, smoked ham and bacon are mixed with fresh
sausage and then combined with the vegetable to create a wonderful
stuffed eggplant entrée.
- 6 small, firm eggplant
- 1 cup stale bread, diced
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ pound ham, finely chopped
- ½ pound cooked bacon, finely chopped
- 1 pound pork sausage
- 2 cups onions, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 2 purple shallots, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/8 tsp powdered bay leaves
- 3 cups tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbsps garlic, minced
- 2 tbsps basil, chopped
- 1 tbsp oregano, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Purchase eggplants that are preferably round, about the size of
a baseball, or smaller oblong, purple eggplant. Cut the eggplant
in half and scoop out the flesh, taking care not to break the skin.
You should have 12 halves. In a bowl, soak stale bread in milk and
set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high
heat. Add chopped ham and bacon and sauté, approximately
2 to 3 minutes. Add pork sausage and chop well into the meat mixture.
When sausage is lightly browned, pour off all but 3 tbsps fat. Add
onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and shallots to meat mixture
and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, blending well. Add meat from hollowed-out
eggplant and cook 15 to 20 minutes to create a stuffing. Squeeze
the milk from the bread and add bread to mixture. Remove from heat
and stir in eggs, cloves, thyme and powdered bay leaf. Blend well
and season to taste using salt and pepper. Stuff the mixture into
eggplant halves and place in a large baking pan with a 1-inch lip.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While oven is heating, place tomatoes
into a sauce pot with garlic, basil and oregano. Bring to a low
boil, reduce to simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and ladle an equal amount of sauce over each eggplant,
pouring remainder into bottom of baking pan. Cover with aluminum
foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and brown, approximately
10 to 15 minutes.