Monday, September 9, 2013

Eggplant Fries with Smoky Romesco Sauce

seriously one of our best appetizers ever...and that is saying something !


We sure the boy says when asked his religion : "I was raised NFL". Of course, football around here means doesn't just mean yelling at the means having some delicious food to nosh on while doing it. And boy oh boy, "delicious" doesn't even begin to cover this one...this is seriously awesome stuff. And as usual, we came to it via a bit of a circular path.

So there we were weekend before last, watching "Phantom Gourmet" on Saturday morning -  like you do. One of the restaurants they happened to profile was Dunn Gaherin's , a cool little pub right near my office. I've been there a few times and always liked it, but they happened to be discussing a dish I've never had there before but immediately wanted the moment I heard about it - eggplant fries. I love eggplant, and I love fries...really no downside here. Cut to this weekend and trying to come up with some new football food...well, here you go.

We checked out a couple of recipes for eggplant fries, and Mark mostly settled on this one (not 100% sure what this site actually is as it doesn't look like a normal Martha Stewart one, but the recipe definitely works.)   As for the Romesco sauce - a delightful Spanish concoction of tomatoes, peppers, almonds, and yum - I've experimented with it before, and this is my version. I thought the slight crunchiness would offset the soft eggplant nicely...umm, yeah....sometimes I get really lucky and get it just right :) There is nothing wrong with this dish, not one blessed thing...and I think you should make it at the first opportunity. I know we will be !

Eggplant Fries
adapted from....Martha Stewart, maybe ?

2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch sticks, 4-inches long
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder

Salt both sides of eggplant and place on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, mix milk and eggs until well blended. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in wide shallow bowl.

Heat oil in frying pan on high heat, or to 325 degrees in a deep fryer. Dip eggplant sticks into egg mixture and then cornmeal mix. Place in oil and fry 3 - 4 minutes, or until golden brown. (If using pan, flip regularly. Drain on paper towels and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Smoky Romesco Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot, sliced thinly and separated into rings
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup croutons or stale bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 -3 jarred roasted red peppers, drained (about an 8 oz jar)  
1 tsp salt (smoked is great if you have it)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium. Add shallot and cook about 5 minutes or until it just starts going translucent. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the almonds just begin to brown (watch them carefully as they can burn super fast).

Transfer the sauté pan contents to a food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until fairly smooth; you want just a tiny bit of crunch left from the almonds (think pesto). You can add a little more olive oil or liquid from the peppers if you feel it needs to be more liquid.

Store in fridge up to a week, or freeze for future use. Romesco can be used on pretty much anything you would use salsa or pesto on or in; fish, chicken, pasta, veggies of any kind (cooked or raw), spread on pita, as a dunk for chips...go wild !