Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hunkar Begendi (Sultan's Delight) Turkish Lamb Stew with Creamy Eggplant Sauce

This is Claudia Roden's recipe; it's a basic lamb stew, with onion, garlic, and tomatoes, served over butter-toasted rice and surrounded by an eggplant bechamel. The sauce is so good that you can serve it with any stew. It's rich, creamy, and mild-flavored, so it won't interfere with the main dish. It would probably be good over pasta with some more pepper and cheese. Here's the sauce recipe (we changed it, just a little, from Roden's):

You'll need:

3lbs eggplants
juice of 1/2 lemon
4T butter
3T flour
2c milk
salt, pepper
1/4t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2c grated kasseri or asiago cheese

Prick the eggplants all over with a sharp pointed knife so they don't explode all over your oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the eggplants on the foil and bake until very soft, turning halfway through, about 30 minutes. Remove and carefully lift off the skin. It should come off very easily (if it doesn't, the eggplants aren't done). Put the flesh in a bowl of water and lemon to preserve the color while you work. Then put the eggplant in a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk constantly, 2 minutes. Add the milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil; the mixture should be thick. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add eggplant and puree with a hand blender if you have one (this isn't necessary, but makes for a much smoother sauce). Add the cheese and stir to melt. Taste; add salt and pepper as necessary.

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