Does your garden ever make you feel guilty? Have you ever planted one eggplant only to find yourself overwhelmed with giant purple orbs all summer long? Have you made grilled eggplant, eggplant Parmesan, eggplant lasagna, fried eggplant, eggplant fries, and ratatouille, all in the same week? If so, "Welcome to my world."
I hate seeing anything in the garden go to waste, but I am out of fresh ideas for cooking with eggplant. Even the chickens run for their lives when they see me coming with a bowl of sliced eggplant. Oh, the guilt and shame.
Last night I actually laid in bed thinking about what I could do with at least one of the five ripe eggplants in the garden right now. I finally gave up trying to think of a new recipe highlighting eggplant and started thinking about ways of hiding it. Thus was born, Country Gravy with Eggplant. No, not the eggplant gravy featured in Indian cuisine with curry and other exotic spices, but creamy country gravy poured over hot biscuits.
This foolish idea was still in my head this morning, and the purple eggplants were bigger than ever, so I decided to give it a try. I substituted cooked diced eggplant for sausage in the gravy. It was divine! I ate so much straight out of the pan with a spoon I feared there would be nothing left to photograph. My new Pescatarian eating plan doesn't allow pork, but with this recipe you don't even miss it!
Country Gravy with Eggplant
- 1 medium eggplant peeled, seeded and finely diced
- 1 small sweet yellow onion finely diced
- 1 small jalapeño pepper cored, seeded and finely diced
- 1 TBS vegetable oil
- 2 TBS butter
- 2 TBS flour
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream or half and half
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of Tabaso
- Pinch of BBQ rub for pork
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Peel the eggplant and cut lengthwise into slabs about ½ inch thick. Use your knife to cut around and remove most of the seeds. You can leave them if you wish. I cut most of them out, but left a few for texture. It would be hard to get them all out without wasting most of the eggplant.
- Finely dice the eggplant and place on a triple layer of paper towels. Sprinkle generously with salt. Allow to sit at least 15 minutes to draw the water out of the eggplant.
- Add the oil to a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the diced onion, jalapeño and eggplant. Cook, stirring frequently until cooked through and lightly browned.
- Remove the vegetables from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter to the skillet and melt. When the butter is bubbling, sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly for about a minute to cook the flour. Don't let the roux (butter and flour) brown. Country gravy needs a white roux. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly as you go to avoid lumps. Add the cream and the eggplant mixture back into the gravy and stir to combine.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and BBQ seasoning. The BBQ seasoning gives the gravy that hint of sausage without it actually being there. You can also leave it out.
- If the gravy is too thick, add more milk or cream. If it too thin, you can cook a bit more roux in a separate pan and add it to thicken the gravy. Avoid using cornstarch as it makes the gravy gummy.
- The amount of salt and pepper you add is strictly up to you. If a lot of the salt drained off into the paper towels, you may need to add more. You also want to be generous with the freshly ground black pepper. Country gravy needs to be seasoned properly or it tastes like wallpaper paste. Done right, this gravy is quite tasty!
- Serve over piping hot biscuits, right out of the oven.