STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH SHRIMP & HAM
- 2 large eggplants a little over 1 lb each;
- 1/4 tsp salt;
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves;
- 3 tbs butter;
- 5 ounces diced ham;
- 1 cup chopped green pepper (about 1/2" dice);
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1/4" dice);
- 1 1/2 cup onions;
- 6 cloves of finely minced garlic;
- 1/4 cup minced parsley;
- 1 1/4 tsp thyme leaves;
- 1/2 tsp oregano;
- 3/4 tsp salt;
- 1/4 tsp black pepper;
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper;
- 1 lb cleaned deveined shrimp (71/90 shrimp per pound shrimp are a good size. If you use larger shrimp, chop the shrimp into smaller pieces);
- 1/3 cup italian bread crumbs;
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese;
- 2 eggs well beaten;
- 1/8 tsp kitchen bouquet (optional);
- 1 1/2 tbs of butter sliced into very thin slices;
Peel 2 large eggplants (a little over 1 lb each), slice into about 2 1/2" thick rounds and cut each round into 4. Leave the rounds together on the cutting board to allow you to fit the eggplant into the saute pan more easily later. This should yield between 1 3/4 and 2 lbs. Over 2 lbs is better. If you use smaller eggplants, just cut the rounds in half or in thirds.
Place 3/4 cup of water into a large 3 quart saute pan, stir in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp thyme leaves and bring to a boil. Place the quartered rounds into the pan (preferably in a simgle layer), reduce the heat to medium to medium/low, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Uncover, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the eggplant being sure to reserve the liquid to add in later if you ever need to add extra liquid. Refrigerate the eggplant overnight if possible. Letting the eggplant rest in the refrigerator allows the flavor of the eggplant to develop. 2 days well covered is best.
In a large 3 quart saute pan, melt 3 tbs butter on medium/low heat. When the butter has melted, add 5 ounces diced ham and saute for 3-4 minutes. About a 1/4" dice is good. Also, use real ham, get a 1/4" thick ham steak with a bone in it or a hole in it where the bone used to be.
After the ham is sauted, add 1 cup chopped green pepper (about 1/2" dice) and 1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1/4" dice) and saute for about 3 minutes.
Turn the oven on and set it to 350 degrees F.
Then add 1 1/2 cup onions and saute for another 3 minutes.
Add 6 cloves of finely minced garlic, 1/4 cup minced parsley, 1 1/4 tsp thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp oregano, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. Saute for another minute until you smell the garlic.
Add 1 lb cleaned deveined shrimp (71/90 shrimp per pound shrimp are a good size. If you use larger shrimp, chop the shrimp into smaller pieces.) Saute for about 3 minutes until the shrimp turn pink and give off water. Remove the pan from the heat and turn off the burner.
Add 1/3 cup italian bread crumbs, 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and two eggs that have been well beaten and have had 1/8 tsp kitchen bouquet added to them while they are beaten. And mix in thoroughly. The kitchen bouquet is optional. It's only added to give the dish a little color.
Now fold in the eggplant as gently as possible. You don' want to break it up too much because you want discernable chunks of eggplant in the final dish. Spoon the folded eggplant mixture into a baking dish, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, dot with about 1 1/2 tbs of butter sliced into very thin slices, and then place on the middle rack of the 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Raise the oven to 375 degrees F and bake an addition 20 minutes. If the top crust is not golden crispy brown, turn on broiler and brown to the desired degree with the oven door open. Watch carefully and remove from the oven as soon as the top has browned.
Allow the dish to rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.