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Stuffed Aubergines Greek Style (Papuzakia)

ingredients

2 large long aubergines, each weighing about 14 oz (400 g)
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
8 oz (230 g) minced lean lamb
pinch chilli powder (optional)
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
9 fl oz (250 ml) tomato sauce
4 tbsp grated mature hard cheese
olive oil
wine vinegar
salt and pepper

for the sauce:

14 fl oz (400 ml) bechamel sauce
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp grated mature hard cheese

method

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) mark 4. Heat plenty of salted water in a large saucepan. Trim off the ends of the aubergines, wash and dry them then cut lengthwise in half.

2. Scoop out the flesh, leaving a layer about 1/4 in (6 - 7 mm) thick next to the skin. Add 1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar to the boiling salted water and blanch the hollowed aubergines for 5 minutes.

3. Drain and arrange upside down on a clean cloth or tilted chopping board to continue draining. Heat 3 tbsp (1/4 cup) olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When it is very tender and has started to brown, add the meat and fry for 1 minute, using a wooden spoon to prevent it forming balls or lumps as it cooks.

4. Add the chopped flesh scooped out of the aubergines. Cook over a low heat, stirring, for 2 - 3 minutes only. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, adding a pinch of chilli powder if wished.

5. Mix the garlic and parsley and stir into the meat mixture; add the tomato sauce. Keep stirring over a
low heat for 2 minutes to blend and thicken the mixture. Draw aside from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Taste, and correct the seasoning if required.

6. Lightly oil a roasting tin or shallow ovenproof dish. Fill the aubergine skins with the meat and vegetable mixture, smoothing the surface.

7. Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Make the sauce: when the stuffed aubergines have finished cooking and it is time to serve them, stir the egg yolks and remaining grated cheese into the sauce off the heat.

8. Return to a very low heat to cook, stirring gently, for a few seconds; do not allow to boil. Pour over the stuffed aubergines and serve at once.

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