Monday, October 29, 2018

Eggplant, Act I

A few years ago I started growing 'fairytale' eggplants at Worlds End to use in flower arrangements; I'd cut the stems with the little danglers attached and then slip them into arrangements to make jazz. The leaves would wilt epically and almost immediately -- using them in flowers proved to be a novelty without staying power.

So this year we ate all the eggplants - nightly for weeks on end - and I became indignant at the dinner table. Even when paraded with the finest of homemade condiments - chimichurri! aioli! chili oil! --  any and all combinations eventually became routine feeling. Arguably a disproportionate amount of energy at Saipua has always gone into staff meals which leads to a certain amount of dissatisfaction in the face of anything routine or ordinary.

That said, my affinity for the finer things in life is accompanied by utter disdain and intolerance for waste, and so the eggplants - the buckets of them brought in from the field daily - stood as my new great challenge. Planning my socialist revolution could wait! Put the new website on hold! The script (a made for TV rock-opera) for the Saipua floral empire exposé is on hiatus!

Slutty-ness is a word I adore for describing all sorts of delicious monsters that emerge from our test kitchens here, in truth behind the drama its merely an indicator of fat content. Around here, we never separate the fat from the stock. In practice and also I'm afraid, metaphorically.

The first of Saipua's Slutty Eggplant Delights

{adapted with permissions to perform in kitchens nationwide.}

-Act I -

A dark stormy night in mid October. Enter stage left; a gang of hoodlum eggplants; about 2 pounds, washed and halved with their green hoods chopped off.

The eggplants get tossed in bowl with giant glugg of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and chiliflakes and then spread on a baking sheet and roasted at 400 degrees F for 30 mins. Toss them or move them around 15 minuets in.

Meanwhile put on a giant pot of water to boil.

Once it's rolling, add salt to make it taste like sea water (a good tip from my friend Samin) this will be more salt than you think -- probably around 1/8 C.

One bag or box of dried pasta. Calamarata (shaped like cut squid) is my new favorite for this, but you can also use any big boisterous thick shape. You want a big shape because the eggplants are clunky.

Cook the pasta - careful not to overcook it - and when you drain it, leave a bit of water in the pot with the pasta and immediately add half a stick of butter. Kerrygold would be best, and you want about a quarter of that gold brick. Mix that into your hot, slightly watery pasta and then toss in your eggplants and, any or most of the following promiscuous ingredients:

- so much goat cheese
- so much feta
- grated romano or other hard cheese
- giant handfuls of arugula
- two lemons squeezed over it all
- lamb sausage, cooked and crumbled
- mint and oregano chiffonade

Never met a bowl of buttered noodles that didn't charm the pants of people here at Worlds End.
And... SCENE!

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