Eggplant was the talk of the Market today. Elvis from Peas Farm had his Eggplant front and center. And Chef Michael Fleshner was ready to answer any and all questions. Highlites from Chef Michael's answer included maximum flavor ideas and his explanation of Moussaka.
Many asked,"What does it taste like ?" Chef Michael's answer was simply," It depends on what you use to enhance the flavor." He spoke of citrus flavors that the vegetable will absorb. Oils used and pepper flavors. He spoke of salting the slices of eggplant to excite the vegetable before adding any flavor enhancers. Eggplant peeled and marinated in SamM Salsa before heating is one excellent way to prepare. Peeled Eggplant drizzled with Olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Eggplant peeled and soaked over night in Balsamic vinegar then high heat sauteed. It was all said to help the customers realize that Eggplant has little flavor until you add the flavors that will soak in.
Now, Moussaka or Eggplant Parmesan sounded like the best use of Eggplant. After slicing the eggplant one quarter inch you salt and let sit. In the meantime you make your favorite Meat sauce. Use Sausage if its available. Saute Onions, Peppers, Carrots and Garlic into the Tomato sauce. Add agave nectar if available. With the Meat sauce created. Set aside and concentrate on the salted Eggplant slices.
Each slice needs to be battered with egg wash and breadcrumbs (Parmesan Cheese in the bread crumbs). Next each slice is pan fried and placed in a casserole dish side by side. With first layer covering the bottom, of the casserole you cover with the meat sauce standing by. This step is repeated as you build layers until you are just below the side of the casserole dish. The next step is to cover over the top layer with a white Greek cheese.
If you go to a cheese shop in Athens, you will find a section full with discs of graviera for instance - each one with the name of the area or island they are from, everybody has their favourite, either because they are from that island or prefer the taste of a particular one.
You will sometimes find one type of Greek cheese known by a totally different name in the rest of Greece.Once this decision is made it is time to place the casserole in a preheated 400 F oven and bake till cheese is golden brown , around 20 minutes. You must allow this casserole to cool before slicing and portioning. Serve with bread sticks or toasted bread and wipe the tears from your eyes as you savor each bite.