We developed this recipe during the inspiring workshop at Niche. It started as a beef cheek. That was the plan. Unfortunately there were no beef cheeks. So we looked at what we had and the idea came together. There were plenty of beef trimmings around because we were working on pressure cooked sauces. We made the broth using the sauteed ground trim from filet mignon and a pressure cooker. We added red wine, onions, garlic, and soy sauce. The broth was intensely beefy. Thinking through the idea of what a beef cheek is to me the aesthetic and texture of eggplant was pretty darn close. We cut the bottoms and rounded ends of the eggplants off. We seasoned them with salt and froze them. Then we deep fried the eggplant to evenly brown the exterior without turning the inside to mush. We put the eggplant cheeks into a hotel pan and covered them with the intense beef broth. We cooked the eggplant in a 300°F oven for 1 hour. Then we cooled the eggplant in the braising liquid. The following day we rewarmed the eggplant, removed it and cut each "cheek" in half. We strained and de-fatted the sauce one more time. Then we thickened the sauce with 0.15% gelatin. We poured half of the sauce over the cheeks to glaze them in the oven. The remaining sauce we reserved in a pot to lacquer the cheeks on the plate. The finished eggplant combined its flavor with rich beef. The texture resembled a rich and tender beef cheek. We paired them with our black radish "elvers" and "aligote" potatoes. The potatoes and their quotes are another dish for another day.
March 10, 2005