May 12, 2014
I found this recipe in a group of war time recipes torn from a magazine. The page had a date, but the name of the magazine is lost to history.
I tried it because I imagined Lulu, the little girl in my novel Delicious! finding this recipe and thinking she would try it. "Mother will love this dish!" she would have said to herself when she read the ingredients.
She would have been right. Mother wasn't very adventurous, and she probably would have appreciated the inoffensive, eager to please nature of the eggplant. But Lulu, I'm pretty sure, would have been bored.
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ onion, minced (1/2 cup)
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons cooked rice
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees
Boil the eggplant in salted water, stirring occasionally until it is fork tender, 15 minutes. (I found it took half an hour, and even then it wasn't completely tender.)
Cut a horizontal slice from the top of the eggplant and carefully scoop out the eggplant with a spoon, leaving ¼ inch of pulp all around. Finely chop the pulp and set aside to drain.
Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion, salt, a few grinds of pepper for 5 minutes. Mix in the parsley. Transfer to a bowl until cool, and mix with the eggplant pulp, rice, egg yolks, and breadcrumbs. Moisten with a little cream if necessary. (I did not find it necessary; it was moist enough without the cream.)
Fill the eggplant shell with the mixture and bake for 25 minutes until golden.
Ever try to boil a whole eggplant? A very strange process; it wanted to float like a boat, and I kept having to push it down to submerge it in water. It took half an hour to cook all the way through, not the 15 advertised minutes, and even then, it wasn't completely soft. Still, I managed to scoop out all the flesh.
It wasn't bad. But it was very bland, and having made it once I don't think I'd bother to do it twice. Lulu, I imagine, would have been disappointed that she didn't have something more delicious after all that trouble. "Eggplant," she would have thought, "surely there are better things to do with it." And then she would have written to James Beard and asked for his advice.
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