Digging up Some Roots

So, I had an eggplant from last week, and another from this week… it was time to use those babies up! I’ve already turned previous eggplants into their ‘parmesan’ counterparts, so I was ready to try something different. Then inspiration struck! It was time to go old school! Being of Middle Eastern decent, I grew up eating some of the most delicious food imaginable. I don’t often try and replicate the dishes mom makes, because, well… you just never can! They never taste quite the same as when mom makes them. But I was craving a piece of home, so I decided to turn my eggplants into one of my favorite childhood dishes… Metlube (pronounced metlubeh).

It tastes better than it sounds! You can think of it as an eggplant and rice casserole! Basically, you get some stew meat (I like to buy the whole chuck roast and cut it up myself)  and brown it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and allspice (be generous with the spices!). Once the meat is nicely browned, add enough very hot water to cover, and bring to a boil. Let the meat simmer until it’s tender, about 30 minutes or so. About two minutes or so before it’s done, add about a teaspoon of ground cardamom. When it’s done, drain and reserve the liquid.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the eggplant (1 large or 2 small) and brush with olive oil and broil on both sides until slightly soft and nicely browned.

Now it’s time to bring it all together! Find a nice pot (about 6 quarts) that will allow you to lay a plate flat against the top… this will be important later! Scatter about 1/2 cup rice on the bottom of the pan. Then arrange the eggplant on top of the rice. Layer the cooked meat on top of that. Scatter another 1 1/2 cups of rice on top of the meat. Add enough water to the reserved cooking liquid to measure a generous 4 cups and pour over the eggplant/meat/rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and then reduce to medium heat for about 15 minutes. Turn the stove to low and simmer until all the water is absorbed… you’ll have to listen to it!

Let sit for about 15 minutes or so to settle. Then take the large plate I mentioned earlier and set atop the pot and flip over! You should have a cake-like concoction with rice cooked around layers of eggplant and beef! Voila!

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Serve the Metlube with tomato/cucumber salad and plain yogurt for an authentic Middle Eastern Meal!

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