Meat and Eggplant Casserole

Has everyone tried the Loob-yee ib lahm?  Are you starving now and dying to try another great Lebanese dish?  (For you guys out there ‘m talking about food, in case you haven’t caught on yet.)  Then here’s something to tickle your taste buds and placate those pangs of hunger.  Get ready to make meat and eggplant casserole!

For starters, you’ll need two large, dark eggplants.  If you’re inexperienced in the eggplant-selection department, then send out for help—we want to do this recipe justice, right?  Right.  Now peel the both of them and slice across them at half-inch intervals to make lots of little eggplant hockey pucks, as I like to call them.  Rub butter (the real stuff, please) on both sides of each puck and place them on a greased cookie sheet under the broiler.  Brown both sides, but don’t overdo it.

Time to work on the meat filling.  You’ll need a pound of chili-grind beef.  No, chili-grind is not what Elvis did when performing for Eskimos.  In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s a courser grind of meat than regular hamburger.  You may have to ask the butcher if your store has it.  But if you try to cheat and settle for ordinary hamburger, all I can say is, well, I won’t be over for dinner. 

Glad we got that out of the way.  Let’s continue.  You’re going to need a skillet to cook the meat.  Dice a large onion and add it to the meat with about a cube of butter, a pinch of cinnamon, and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  And throw in a handful of pine nuts.  It’s just not right without them.  And remember, we’re not just browning here; cook the meat until it’s done.

Now place a layer of your eggplant hockey pucks in a Pyrex loaf dish.  Put a layer of meat over that, add a second layer of pucks, and then add the rest of the meat.  You could freeze it for later at this point, but why?  I’m hungry! Aren’t you?  Instead, let’s add a number two can of tomatoes and a half cup of tomato juice.  If it gets too thick, add a little water.

Most people here say to add salt and pepper to taste, but you won’t be tasting it now, and you’ve never tasted it before, so what the heck is that supposed to mean?  I ask you!  Oh, just throw a little of each at it and don’t measure it.  That’s what I do, and I’ve had this many times.  Bake it at about 350 degrees for thirty to thirty-five minutes, and then serve it over rice.  As I said before, I use basmati, and I strongly advise against any sort of instant rice.

There you have it.  Meat and eggplant casserole.  Hope you have enjoyed making it, but more than that, enjoy eating it!


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