from The Sephardic Kosher Kitchen by Suzy David (Jonathan David, 1984)
Suzy David offers many wonderful meatball recipes in her book, a marriage of Bulgarian and other Mediterranean Sephardi cooking. Her recipe for the classic leek-and-meat fritter substitutes pureed celery root for mashed potatoes.
Suzy writes that the following recipe is “one of the most popular Sephardic dishes. Eggplant prepared with plenty of garlic and a dash of sugar makes a novel background for the meatballs.” She advises that “the entire eggplant skin should be black. Brown spots indicate the flesh is undercooked. Also be sure to drain the eggplant of bitter juices.”
But watch the eggplants carefully: you just want to char their outside skin, not burn the flesh inside. And it’s a good idea to pierce the eggplants with a fork in several places before broiling them—that will prevent them from exploding.
Yield: 6 servings
- 3 eggplants
- 4 tablespoons light vegetable oil
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons flour dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
Grill the eggplants over an open fire, if available, or under the broiler on all sides until they are blackened outside and soft inside. Remove them to a colander and allow to rest until cool. When they are cool, peel off the blackened outer skin, chop the pulps coarsely and replace in the colander to allow them to drain off their bitter juices.
In a heavy lidded skillet, heat the oil and sauté 1 tablespoon of the crushed garlic. When it begins to sizzle, add the drained, chopped eggplant pulp. Lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the sugar.
While the eggplant is cooking, put the beef in a small mixing bowl and knead the flour-water mixture into it. Add ½ teaspoon salt, the parsley, and pepper. Mix well and shape into 1-inch balls. As you shape the balls, drop each one into the eggplant. When all the balls are in, cover the skillet and cook slowly for another 30 minutes, checking every now and again to make sure the eggplant is not sticking. If it begins to stick, and ¼ cup water to the skillet. At the end of 30 minutes, uncover, add the remaining garlic and more salt, if necessary, and place in a 350 degree oven for another 20-30 minutes, until a crust is formed.