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Eggplants Suffed with Minced Meat and Pine Nuts [Sheikh El Mehshi]:
Submitted by: Fadwa | Date Added: 20 Jul 2010
Listed in: Lebanese Meat / Stuffed with Meat

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yield: ?
active time: ?
total time: ?
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added by: Madame Fahimeh 
cuisine: ?

• 12 small, thin eggplants, each about 4 inches long with stalks on (about 1-1/2 lb), or 3 large ones (about 1/2 lb each)
• vegetable oil for frying
• meat and pine nut stuffing
• 1-3/4 lb rip tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped,
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
• salt to taste

If you are using small Eggplants:
1. Cut the stalks of the eggplants to an approzimate length of 1/2 inch and trim away the husks that cap the skin.
2. Peel off a strip of skin, 1/2 inch wide, the full length of the eggplant,
3. Leave 1/2 inch of skin unpeeled, and peel another as above;
4. Continue until you end up with a striped eggplant.
5. Repeat the process with the rest of the eggplants.

• Fill a large frying pan with enough oil to shallow fry the eggplants and place over a medium heat.
• When the oil is hot (test with the tip of one eggplant; if the oil bubbles around it, it is ready), fry the eggplants until golden all over.
• Remove with a slotted spoon (do not lift by the stalk as it might come off) and put to drain on several sheets of paper towels.
• You can also steam, bake or microwave the eggplants, but their taste and color will be quite different.
• While the eggplants are left to cool, prepare the meat and pine nut stuffing and preheat the oven to 350 F.
• Take one eggplant and, with a small knife, slit it down the middle (the peeled section will cut more easily), lengthways, and no more than half way into the flesh.
• Prise the eggplant open and press the flesh inside to form pocket in which you will put a tablespoon of meat stuffing.
• Place in a deep bake-and-serve dish and repeat the process until you have filled all the eggplants.
• Place any leftover filling on the bottom of the dish between the eggplants.
• Season the chopped tomatoes with cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste and spread evenly over the eggplants.
• Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked and most of their juice evaporated.
• If you have not baked the eggplants in a bake-and-serve dish, be careful when you transfer them onto a serving dish, as their lovely presentation will easily spoil with casual handling.
• Serve hot with plain rice.

If you are using large Eggplants:
1. In the variation you need not worry so much about the presentation of the eggplants as they are not used whole.

• Peel the eggplants and slice them lenthways or across to a thickness of about 1/2 inch.
• Arrange the slices in salted layers in a colander and leave to sweat for about 30 minutes.
• In the meantime prepare double quantities of the meat and pine nut stuffing and preheat the oven to 350 F.
• Rinse the salted eggplant slices under cold water, pat dry and fry until golden on both sides.
• Season the chopped tomatoes with cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste, then line the bottom of a deep baking dish with a layer of fried eggplant slices.
• Spread the remaining eggplants.
• Pour the seasoned tomatoes over the eggplants.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the tomato sauce has thickend and serve hot with plain rice.
• A northern variation is to cook this dish in yogurt instead of tomatoes.
• Prepare the cooked yogurt sauce, using mint instead of coriander.
• Mix the mint and garlic into the cooked yogurt before pouring it over the eggplants and simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes instead of baking, as the yogurt might separate if cooked in the oven.
Additional Notes
Its a good idea to have multiple pans going at one time to make the cook ... otherwise the 2 hours could turn into a half a day. :)