Braden Family Cookbook

Chuck Braden

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                                                                                                                   From Time Life Books, but improved by me!

Serves 6 – 8 

3 medium- sized eggplants, about 1 # each, peeled and cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices
1 cup flour
1 – 2 cups olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 pound minced cooked lamb (you may substitute 2 # ground lamb)

This is where you use up that leftover lamb you have left after a holiday dinner!

1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and finely chopped, reserve the liquid
1 cup tomato puree
1 TSP finely chopped garlic
1 TSP dried oregano (2, if using fresh)
½ TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP salt
Fresh ground black pepper
6 TBSP freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle salt on eggplant slices.  Place in colander and let them “sweat” for about 20 – 30 minutes.  (I have skipped this step and still had good results!)  Put slices in a paper bag or large bowl and add flour to coat.  Remove any excess flour.

Heat a heavy skillet with about ½ cup of the olive oil until it is just about smoking.  Add the eggplant slices and cook for a minute or two on each side to gently color.  Add additional oil as you go.  The eggplant soaks up the oil.  Do not let them burn!  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

If you have a gas BBQ, preheat it until real hot and then grill the eggplant slices after brushing them with olive oil....skip the flour.

Pour ½ cup more olive oil in the pan  Add the onions and cook until soft and lightly colored.  Stir in the lamb and cook until any pink color is gone.  Add tomatoes, tomato puree, reserved liquid from the diced tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon, 1 TSP salt, and some pepper and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until most of the liquid is evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape solidly in the spoon.  Taste for seasoning.

Salsa Béchamel (cream sauce)

2 cups milk
1 TBSP butter
3 eggs
¼ cup flour
½ TSP salt

Prepare the béchamel sauce.  Heat 1 ½ cups of the milk and the butter in a small pan until bubbles begin to appear around the rim.  Remove from the heat.  In a heavy 2 – 3 quart sauce pan, beat the eggs, the remaining ½ cup of milk, the flour together until smooth.  Place this saucepan over moderate heat and, stirring constantly with a wisk, slowly add the milk and melted butter mixture in a thin stream.  Still stirring, cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens heavily.  Set aside off of the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread half of the eggplant slices in overlapping rows in the bottom of a 14 X 9 X 3 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle the slices evenly with 2 TBSP of the grated cheese.  Pour in the lamb and tomato mixture and spread it to all four corners with a rubber spatula.  .  Arrange the rest of the eggplant on top and sprinkle with 2 TBSP of the cheese.  Pour in the béchamel sauce and spread evenly over the eggplant and top with the remaining 2 TBSP of cheese.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees.  Return to the oven for about 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.