Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Student Suppers: Syrian Baked Lamb & Aubergine
Usually cooking for boys, I always see it as a massive win if I make a dish heavily featuring an ingredient someone claims not to like, and it completely wins them over. With a few exceptions (I don’t think anyone could ever get me to love a peanut) I am of the firm belief that people don’t have likes and dislikes for ingredients, just ways things are cooked. This dish is case in point; I used to say I hated lamb, but it turns out that I love lamb if it is minced and gently spiced. However, this dish is not all about the lamb. This dish is all about the aubergines, that become melty and silky, and absorb all of the spiced lamb juices like a sponge as they’re baked with the lamb. This is the dish to serve to people who claim they don’t like aubergines.
This dish started life on a cold, chilly November evening with a bottle of red wine from a food blog I love, Fox and Briar, who made this dish from Food From Our Ancestors: The Ultimate Syrian Sunday Dinner by Liz Della Croce. And it is perfect just as that; a comforting, filling, stick-to-your-ribs cold weather dish for two very hungry people. We polished it off between us that night! However, I’ve chosen to post (or is this a re-post as someone has already posted it?) this recipe in the middle of one of the hottest May’s I can remember because it is also the perfect centrepiece to anchor some different, cold mezze dishes for about four (or more) of you. Think flatbreads or homemade pitta, light tzatziki and a Turkish or Greek salad. Serve it warm, not piping hot.
While cinnamon is a pretty normal spice to have, allspice and nutmeg are a bit more unusual. Assuming you’ve picked them up for this recipe, keep hold of the allspice and you’ll be able to use it for the rub on my Roast Mexican Chicken with Pumpkin & Pesto come autumn. As for fresh nutmeg (I prefer to buy it whole and grate it on demand) you’ll get a lot of milage out of that come Christmas; try my Christmas Spice Cranberry & Walnut Granola, or my Gingerbread & Pomegranate Dutch Baby Pancake.
A hearty one pot lamb and aubergine dish that is great for a weeknight with a difference – and it re-heats beautifully.
- 2 Medium Aubergines (Eggplants), cut into 2 inch slices
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Handfuls Pine Nuts
- Large Knob Unsalted Butter
- 400g (14 oz) Lamb Mince
- 1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
- 1 White Onion, finely chopped
- 1 x 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (355 fahrenheit) and whack the grill on as high as it will go.
- Season the aubergine slices well with salt and pepper, and spread them out across a baking sheet. Grill until slightly browned on each side.
- Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a big, dry frying pan before setting aside.
- Return the pan to a medium high heat, and melt the butter. Add the lamb, and break up the meat is brown.
- Stir in the spices along with 1 tsp of salt.
- Add the onion, and cook until the onion is soft.
- Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the toasted pine nuts, and remove from the heat.
- Arrange the aubergine slices in a single layer in a large baking dish, and spoon the lamb mixture over each one.
- Bake for 45 minutes, and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.