Papoutsakia or Greek Stuffed Eggplants!

Papoutsakia which means little shoes in greek it’s actually eggplants stuffed with a meat sauce and bechamel sauce on top. It’s a food that takes a lot of time to prepare and more so to clean the kitchen afterwards, but it’s so delicious and totally worth it…

It’s a much-loved family recipe and you will find it us a main dish on a weekend meal. Because it has some difficulty, I do a double dose and put it in the fridge so I have a meal ready for another day in the week. I do not think there is anyone who will complain about eating the same food twice when it comes to papoutsakia. Let’s start because we have a road ahead of us …

INGREDIENTS:

4-5 eggplants

olive oil

salt

For the meat sauce:

500gr (1 lb ) ground beef

1 cup parsley finely chopped

1 cup of tomato sauce

1 fresh chopped tomato

1/2 cup red wine

1 onion

2 tbsps olive oil

1 bay laurel leaf

salt pepper oregano

1 pinch of sugar

For the béchamel:

2 &1/2 cups of milk

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

salt

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 cup equals 200 ml

1 table spoon equals 5 ml

INSTRUCTIONS:

We start by washing the eggplants. We make a slit down the middle of each one, but do not pierce it all the way and cut the stalk. Season with salt and leave them for half an hour to get out their liquids. Rinse them, wipe with kitchen paper inside-out, drizzle them with olive oil and place them in a baking tray lined with baking paper. They need 30-40 minutes at 200C /400 F degrees until softened.

Now we can prepare the sauce. Place some olive oil or butter in a pan. Saute the onion and then the beef for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it evaporate . Add all the other ingredients (tomato, herbs, spices) and some water, let’s say ½ cup. Allow it to boil 15 minutes and remove from the heat.

In a small pan, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the flour. Stir for a minute and slowly pour the milk without stopping the stirring. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Put the egg, salt and nutmeg. Whisk some more until you have a fine cream.

It’s time to set up our food. With a spoon we open up the eggplants and fill them with the meat sause. We cover it with the béchamel. Pour some olive oil on top. You can topped it with grated greek feta or kefalotyri which it’s like parmesan. Add a cup of water in the tray and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 180C/360F until turned golden brown.

-If the eggplants are too big you can cut them in half  and place in your tray with the skin facing up and then fill them.

-If you use low fat milk for your béchamel you will have to stir for a few more minutes in medium heat.

Enjoy or as we say in Greece Καλή όρεξη (kali orexi).

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