Stuffed Eggplant "Pirogue"

Total Time:
1 hr
Prep:
30 min
Cook:
30 min

Yield:
6 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled
  • 1 cup plus 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Essence, or other Creole seasoning, recipe follows
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (may substitute other cheeses here, such as Gruyere or brie)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Directions

Cut each eggplant into thirds lengthwise. Cut a thin flat slice off the curved side so that the eggplant pieces lay level, like little boats. Using a paring knife and spoon or melon baller, scoop out the flesh from the inside of the eggplant, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Set aside. Reserve removed pulp for another purpose or discard.

In a shallow bowl combine 1 cup of the flour with 1 tablespoon of the Essence. In a second shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of Essence. In a third bowl combine the eggs with 1 cup of the milk and 1 teaspoon of Essence. Season the eggplant pirogues with 2 teaspoons of the Essence. Working 1 at a time, dredge the eggplant pirogues in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess, then in the egg wash, and finally in the seasoned bread crumbs. Place eggplant pieces on a wire rack and set aside while you prepare the seafood sauce. Reserve 1/4 cup of the seasoned breadcrumbs and set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, red bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Essence, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the remaining 4 teaspoons of flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups of milk, whisking continuously, and bring the sauce to a boil. Add the cream, return sauce to a boil, and cook until sauce is thickened and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted. Add the bay leaf and set aside, covered.

In a large skillet melt 3 tablespoons of the remaining butter and, when hot, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink, about 1 minute. Add the crabmeat, 1/2 teaspoon of Essence and 1/4 teaspoon salt, wine and green onions and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally but being careful not to break up the crabmeat. Add the reserved cheese sauce and stir well to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly to avoid scorching the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat several inches of oil to 350 degrees F.

Fry the eggplants in the hot oil until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper-lined baking sheet. Lay the fried eggplant boats on a baking sheet and spoon about 3/4 cup of the hot seafood filling onto the top of each. In a small bowl combine the grated Parmesan with the 1/4 cup of reserved seasoned bread crumbs. Divide the cheese-crumb mixture evenly among the tops of the filled eggplant pirogues and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crumbs are lightly browned. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.


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