This recipe has a different flavor profile, cooking technique, and feel even though the presentation looks similar to my eggplant "Parmesan" I did a while back. This is a mediterranean inspired recipe all the way. Jp and Eloise both loved those flavors and said it was the best eggplant he has ever had. It seemed like flavors I haven't made in awhile and seemed like a good choice. The olive sauce I've made before but I thought of braising whole tiny eggplants in the sauce. I took a cake tester and pricked tiny holes in the skin of the eggplant. This allows the sauce to penetrate the eggplant and release some of the steam that the eggplant might have as it cooks. The jalapeno in the sauce adds some heat to the dish along with the silkyness of the olives. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!
4 small eggplants (graffiti or any other smaller size eggplant)
Mushroom Conserva (adapted from Thomas Keller)
2lb of wild mushrooms (mitake, Beech, Cremeni, Porcini, Shitake, etc...)
1 cup of grape seed oil
1 cup of olive oil
5 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1 large sprig of thyme and rosemary
1/4 cup of lemon verbena leaves
3 tbsp of sherry vinegar
salt and black pepper
1/2 onion sliced
8 oz castelvetrano olives
1 1/2 jalapenos sliced
3 garlic cloves
2 1/4 cup of whey or chicken stock
1/2 cup of white wine 95 g white wine
1 cucumber sliced
Few sprigs basil
1 oz Sage Flowers
1 oz oregano leaves,
2 oz sheep's milk feta
2 tbsp capers
1 /2 cup toasted bread crumbs
Trim the mushrooms of tough stems if any and any dirt that may be on them. Cut large mushroom into pieces and keep the small ones whole. In a pot add the oil, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and verbena. Bring the oil up to 170 degrees. Then pour in the mushrooms carefully. Turn the mushrooms periodically. When the oil comes back up to 170 degrees cook for another 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Let the mushrooms steep in the oil for 45 minutes. Then transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator. The mushrooms should be submerged in the oil. Serve the mushrooms hot or cold and will keep for a month.
For the olive nage,
In a small sauce pan on medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil, onions, jalapeno, garlic, and castlevetrano olives. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Then take the lid off and deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce the wine by half and then add whey and cucumber juice. Bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Then pour everything into a blender and add basil leaves. Puree until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
For the Eggplant
In a braising pot add a little olive oil to the pan. Prick a few holes in the eggplant, season with salt and sear in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Then pour in your olive sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes until the eggplant is tender all the way through.
Carefully peel the eggplant and season lightly with salt. Place the eggplant on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Pour a ladle of sauce over the eggplant. Right before serving place in the oven at 400 degrees until the eggplant is hot all the way through. Then place on a plate and ladle another ladle full of sauce over top. Place sheep's milk feta, capers, mushrooms, herbs, breadcrumbs, and flowers on top. Serve and enjoy!