Aubergine parmigiana à la Fidget – et voilà!

aubergine rugby
After blowing the whistle on this latest outbreak of tomfoolery, Trota has re-established order in the cartoon kitchen and retrieved today’s key ingredient…

Aubergine parmigiana à la Fidget

This is not the kind of dish you can rustle up willy-nilly: in fact to avoid an unseemly scrum, careful planning, coordination, hard work and (ideally) skilled and committed sous-chefs are required – so with Fidget refocused on peeling duties and Salmon back on the chopping, Trota can finally get down to business.
There are three main things to get ready: the aubergines, the meat sauce and the béchamel.
You will need three mid-size aubergines. Slice 1cm thick and fry in a pan with 1tbsp of oil (you need to do this in batches because you can only fry 3–4 slices of aubergines at a time, depending on the size of your pan). If you’re concerned they might be bitter (and you have the time), you can ‘sweat’ the aubergines before you fry them: sprinkle the slices with salt, cover with a weight to apply pressure and let the brown juices come out (30–40min), then wash and pat dry.
Alongside, you finely chop (or use a food processer) a carrot, an onion and a stalk of celery. Start by frying this gently in 2tbsp oil and a knob of butter. Add 500g lean mince and keep frying. When the meat has browned add 600g tomato passata. Together with your seasoning, add a pinch of sugar (to offset the acidity of the tomatoes). Mix well and let it cook for about 30min.
For the béchamel sauce you will need 25g butter, 25g flour and 250ml milk. Put the butter and flour in a saucepan over a medium heat to start and mix together as the butter melts. Add the milk in one go and – with a whisk – keep mixing and cooking. When the sauce is cooked it should not taste of flour: it will take about 30min over a low heat. Mix every so often. Season, and add some grated nutmeg if you like.
It’s nearly ready to layer. Get one lightly beaten egg (and if you have some bits of ham or cheese in the fridge, this is the time to chop them really fine and keep to one side). Prepare a good amount of grated parmesan cheese (80g or so).
Now, in a baking tin put one layer of meat sauce, add a layer of aubergine, spoon some of the béchamel, the toppings (if you have any), a bit of parmesan, a bit of the beaten egg – and then repeat. Make as many layers as you need to use up the ingredients – the top layer has to include meat sauce, béchamel and a generous sprinkle of parmesan.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180°/gas 4 for 30–40min.
So, is it aubergine parmigiana or moussaka? As you can imagine we’ve debated this at length in the cartoon kitchen – the result: well, just get on the pitch and tuck in!
And there’s a bonus: these amounts will feed two people and the small fictional dog at least twice. One for now and one for the freezer: not bad. Why not give it a try?