Thursday, November 8, 2007
Dinner for a Greek Shepherd?
With both the Brain and I working together coming home to a hot dinner doesn't really work. I know crock pots are supposed to be great for that, but I don't really have much experience with them and the last thing I cooked was so bad I only ate it because I had 20 minutes before Spin Class. I came home and the Brain was eating his, but it was coated in ranch dressing and Parmesan cheese. Since then we haven't pulled the crock pot back out.
So we had to stay late at the office, working people need wills too, and we didn't get home until 7 o'clock. By this time we were both ready to chew our arms off we were so hungry. I had a string cheese and munched on the horribly hard Walmart brand gingersnaps from the flop yesterday and set about to chopping up eggplant for a Lamb and Eggplant Potpie With Feta Potato Crust. The Brain told me he couldn't wait for me to make my dinner so he made himself a couple sandwiches, by this time I was on to licking the crumbs out of the Doritos bag and waiting for the eggplant salting to do it's magic.
The Brain then decided to poke around and see if I was doing anything really interesting with this dinner and left to go to the other house we're taking care of. So I sauteed my lamb and spices and added the tomatoes. And I made the feta mashed potato crust. And I patiently waited for it to come out of the oven.
I am really happily married. I love my husband very much. But I was thrilled to get this meal all to myself. I could savor every bite and not worry that there would be some left if I wanted seconds. I could sit there and do nothing, but enjoy my dinner, warming and delicious, like Moussaka without the yucky bechamel sauce and a little more interesting than the standard Shepherd's Pie (which we love). It is the kind of meal that made me wonder why I almost had to be forced to eat my eggplant as a kid. The eggplant was still in nice little cubes, cooked but not mushy. The lamb mixture was seasoned just perfect. And I could have eaten the entire feta potato crust in one sitting.
The leftovers were pretty good too. The Brain had it for breakfast today.
Lamb And Eggplant Potpie With Feta Potato Crust
Adapted from Gourmet February 1990 (serves 4)
For the Lamb Mixture
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp crumbled dried mint
3/4 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground allspice
15oz can petite diced tomatoes undrained
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
For the topping
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (2 big ones)
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
6oz crumbled Feta
Make the lamb mixture
In a colander sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it drain for 30 minutes. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat, in it cook the eggplant, patted dry, in batches, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until it is tender but still holds its shape, and transfer it with a slotted spoon to a bowl. In the skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat and in it cook the onion, stirring, until it is softened. Add the garlic can cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the lamb and cook the mixture, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the lamb is no longer pink. Pour off any excess fat from the skillet, add the cinnamon, the mint, the oregano, and the allspice, and cook the mixture, stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until it is thickened. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the Parmesan. The lamb mixture improves in flavor if made up to this point and kept, covered and chilled, overnight. Add the eggplant to the lamb mixture, combine the mixture well, and spread it in a shallow 8x8 casserole dish.
Make the topping
In a large saucepan combine the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, with enough cold water to cover them by 1-inch, bring the water to a boil, and simmer the potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan, and cook them over moderate heat. Mash the potatoes and add butter, Parmesan, feta and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the mixture until the mixture is well combined and butter is melted.
Spoon the topping over the lamb mixture, spreading it to cover the lamb mixture completely. Bake the potpie in the middle of a preheated 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is browned lightly.