Molded Eggplant and Bucatini
or Timballo di Melanzane e Bucatini Casserole
as a child, my
making Molded Eggplant and Bucatini Casserole
and I would sit spellbound as she told me the story. It seems that during the
law was passed forbidding the serving of more than three courses
at any meal. So the clever cooks of Southern Italy found ways to combine
different meals into one. This recipe came from a close friend of my
Grandmother's and while she used a special pan for this dish, I found that both
a Teflon spring form pan oven proof dish will work. Also Bucatini is a thick
tubular spaghetti, it is becoming very difficult to find so Ziti or Rigatoni
can be used. You can also make this in steps, making the sauce and meatballs one
day and the rest the next day.
Molded Eggplant and
3 large eggplants (at least 11 inches long and as even in size and fullness as
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs (toasted)
2 cup Bucatini broken into thirds, or 2 1/2 cups other type
1 large beaten egg
1 Lb package of (beef, veal and pork combined chop meat)
make a pot of your favorite sauce adding about 1/2 cup red wine, 1/4 cup plus 2
tlbs grated cheese.
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (about 6 oz),
peanut oil for frying
IF YOU PLAN TO DO IT
ALL IN ONE
DAY: Cut off the ends of the eggplants, lengthwise into 1/4" slices. Layer
slices in a colander, set in a bowl, salting each layer as you proceed. Place a
second bowl on top of the slices to act as a weight leave for about one hour,
this step will help remove any excess water from the eggplant. Generously coat
the inside of a 3 1/2'deep,9" round mold or cake pan and thoroughly coat inside
of pan with, butter than toasted bread crumbs, shake off excess refrigerate till
needed. Make your sauce and set aside.
MEATBALLS: In a bowl combine the veal, pork and chop meat (most
stores carry this combination), Mix the meat with the beaten egg, 2 tlbs dry
white wine, 2 tlbs grated cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, and salt mix well and
with your hands form the mixture into small meatballs the size of large grapes.
Melt 2 tlbs butter in a frying pan and fry meatballs till browned and firm.
Remove with slotted spoon set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and
cook the pasta until (al dente) drain and set aside.
EGGPLANT: In a large frying pan, heat 1/2 cup peanut oil, wipe the
eggplant free of the salt and fry a few slices at a time until slightly softened
about 2 minutes on each side. they should be plyable but not to soft, as they
would fall apart drain on paper towl or brown paper. set your oven for 325F.
NOW HERE IS THE TRICKY PART: Line the mold or pan with the slices by draping
them from the middle of the bottom of the pan to the end up the side and over
the top -- it should overhang about 3 inches. Continue doing this untill you
have covered the bottom completely and overlapping as you went. In a large
bowl mix the pasta, meatballs, small cubed mozzarella, 1/2 of the grated cheese,
some parsley and 2 cups of the sauce. Mix well carefully add the mixture to the
mold , pack it in and even it out. Now turn the overhanging eggplant towards the
center overlapping as you go. It should cover completely. Cover top with 1/2 cup
sauce and remaining grated cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes remove from
oven place on rack and allow to cool ( it will help re-firm the eggplant.)
Run a knife around the side just to loosen a bit, this is why I like to use a
spring pan, once it cools a bit and you release the side and wonder of wonders
you have this really great looking pasta dish wrapped in eggplant. Open the
spring and place on a pretty platter cut into wedges or slices serve with extra
sauce crusty bread and a salad.
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