Friday, August 20, 2010

Nightshade and Lamb Napoleon

Plants in the Solanaceae family are commonly referred to as “Nightshade” plants.  There are a variety of genera in the family, including some highly toxic plants.  However, I promise you, we won’t be cooking with any of those!  Today's ingredients in this family are eggplant, potato, peppers, paprika, tomato, and tomatillos.

1 medium eggplant
1 cup of tomatillos, cleaned and halved
1 chili pepper, seeded
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 large tomatoes
1 clove garlic
½ lb ground lamb
2 potatoes, grated
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 egg
1 teaspoon paprika
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • Slice the eggplant into ½” thick rounds, about 6 slices.  Coat in salt and olive oil, place on baking dish and bake for 15min or until soft but slightly crispy.
  • In a Cuisinart or blender toss in the tomatillos, chili pepper, lime juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth (simple salsa verde). Place in refrigerator.
  • Slice the tomatoes in ¼” thick rounds.  Top with salt and pepper, and place in refrigerator.
  • Form 4 lamb patties, about the same size in diameter as the eggplant rounds.  Add salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Grate the potato, squeeze excess water with a paper towel, place in a bowl. Dice the yellow pepper and add to bowl (retain a little yellow pepper for garnish). Whisk up the egg, and add it to the bowl with paprika, salt and pepper. Mix together and form 4 patties slightly larger in diameter than the eggplant. Set aside.
  • In one skillet, add a healthy dose of olive oil and place on medium high heat.  After it is brought up in temp, turn it down to medium heat.  Cook the potato pancakes until dark golden on either side. Set on paper towels and salt.
  • In another skillet, drizzle a bit of olive oil and place on medium high heat.  Cook the lamb patties until cooked through (3-5 min each side).

In a shallow bowl, layer:

  • Potato pancake
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Lamb
  • Salsa verde
  • Eggplant
  • Lamb
  • Salsa verde
  • Tomato
  • Potato pancake
Drizzle with salsa verde and sprinkle with remaining yellow peppers.

The acidity of the vegetables balance the richness and pungency of the lamb, and the slight crispiness of the potato pancakes adds texture. I wouldn’t pair this with a whimpy wine – a Bordeaux or Pinot Noir would partner nicely, unless you prefer a full bodied Zinfandel on the blackberry and pepper side. If you prefer white, a rich Pinot Gris. If you miniaturize them and make them an appetizer (using Japanese eggplant and small tomatoes), you could have fun and serve with a dry sherry.

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