Wednesday, September 25, 2013
When a recipe is complex or requires a page of ingredients, I am not above using bottled sauces. I would never attempt to conjure up a Mexican Mole sauce for example, for even if I could find the ingredients, I would lack the understanding of what to do with them-
I found this "Etouffee" sauce in the "Prepared Foods and Meal Helpers" aisle at Kroger a while back. The bottle described it as "Thick Rich Cajun Gravy". It sat in my pantry waiting for its moment( which came last week), when I bought three eggplants at the farm truck. I love Eggplant Parmesan, which I make from scratch, sauce and all,but I wanted to do something different with this week's menu.
The people who bottle this run the Dee Felice Cafe in Covington,Kentucky. They sell a line of sauces including "Jambalaya" and "Gumbo". They do have a website, though I do not see the "Etouffee" listed there.
I decided to use the sauce on fried eggplant slices, which I layered in a casserole dish. I poured 16 ounces of the sauce over the eggplant, mixed it around a bit,then put a layer of Panko bread crumbs on top. I baked this at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. After I took it out of the oven, I sprinkled some crispy french fried onions on top.
As every Southern cook who has ever brought covered dishes into a potluck or "carry-in" knows, french fried onions made by Durkee are essential to the Holy Southern Holiday casserole of green beans and canned mushroom soup. Just try finding these a week before Christmas-
I did not use Durkee's. I found "Lars Own" crispy onions imported from Holland in Kroger's International aisle. I am certain Durkee's would do just as well.
If I had any of this left in the refrigerator, I would eat it right now, and for lunch and supper. It is spicy, but not overly so, and makes a great meatless meal.
I used three small(6-8) inch eggplants. I salted the slices, put them in a colander, put a salad plate on top and weighted it down. You can do this with a heavy trivet or a can of vegetables. This is an old timey way of preparing eggplant, supposedly to leach out any bitter juices.(Mario Batali does not do this, which makes me wonder why I still do!).
Or you can skip this step, brush your slices of eggplant with olive oil and bake them at 350 till browned. If you fry them, expect to use a good bit of olive oil, since eggplants soak it up quickly.
This should feed four.