“Papoutsakia”, the name of the dish on today’s post, literally means “little shoes”. But it’s also a wonderful Greek dish from the Peloponese, in the south of the country, where eggplants are commonly used in the local cuisine. “Papoutsakia” is actually eggplants stuffed with minced meat sauce and topped with béchamel sauce. One could say that it is a variation of the famous moussaka , but “papoutsakia” are equally delicious and when you taste them you’ll end up relishing more than one!
Here’s the recipe:
6 large eggplants
1 kilo ground beef meat
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
2 cans tomatoes (or 4-5 fresh and very ripe finely chopped)
½ cup esti extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated kefalotyri cheese (or parmesan)
For the béchamel sauce:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup lukewarm whole milk
Begin with the eggplants:
Wash and dry the eggplants, trim off their stems and cut them in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out the pulp of the eggplant, leaving a shell about ½ cm thick. We don’t want to break through the skin of the eggplant.
Don’t throw away the eggplant pulp! Chop it and use it as an ingredient of the sauce
Sauté the eggplant halves in olive oil in a frying pan. Start with a small amount of oil oil but eventually you’ll use more since eggplants absorb a lot of oil and the pan may dry out. You don’t need to sauté too long, just enough to soften the eggplant. Drain the eggplants on a rack.
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
Make the sauce:
In a large frying pan heat some olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onions. When the onions soften and become translucent , add the chopped eggplant pulp. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the ground beef meat and sauté until it starts to brown. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce by covering the pan for 20 minutes or until the liquid of the sauce is absorbed. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
Make the béchamel:
Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. When it starts to bubble add the flour and stir strongly with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the egg yolks very carefully until they are well blended.
Taste and adjust salt.
Place the eggplant halves on the bottom of a roasting pan. Sprinkle some of the cheese to cover the bottom of the eggplant, then spoon in some of the sauce to the top of the side rims. Cover with béchamel sauce, about 1 tablespoon for each eggplant half. When all the eggplants are finished, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.
Bake until the béchamel is browned, the cheese on top is browned, about one hour.