I am always drawn to dishes that are a bit different. "Out of the norm" some may say. "Weird." say others.
Jack and I are actually both similar in that department. If we are at a restaurant with dishes like sweetbreads, veal cheek, or stuffed pig's feet, you can be sure we'll order it. Once, I ordered bone marrow at a restaurant and a fellow dining guest asked, "Why would you order that?"
"Hello!" I exclaimed, as if that was the dumbest question in the world. "Because it's delicious!" And then I shoved a piece of bread covered with the fatty, brain matter-resembling marrow in her face.
Needless to say, she was not pleased.
Now, this dish is not that far out there, but it is different, so when I saw it on the cover of Bon Appetit last year, I always wanted to make it. And this past week, I finally did.
Let me tell you this. This takes all day to make. All. Day. Each ingredient is separately sauteed in the same pan almost as if each ingredient is a building block of flavor in the walls of the pan. First, eggplant is tossed in salt and left to sit for an hour to draw out all of them moisture, then sauteed until tender. Next, lamb shank is tossed in a bit of flour and sauteed in the same pan (sans the eggplant). The lamb is then set aside and onions are sauteed until tender. Afterwards, the pan is deglazed with white wine before the diced tomatoes, garlic, beef broth and oregano are added. The lamb is then added back into the pan and slowly cooked for an hour. Next, the eggplant is added back into the pan and the flavors are allowed to marry and the broth thickened for another 45 minutes.
Like I said. All. Day.
The mixture is then put into a baking dish (the recipe calls for a 9x13" dish, but I used an 8x8" dish) and topped with delicious mashed potatoes (and I will forever use this for my mashed potato recipe. Love.) and baked for an additional 45 minutes.
The resulting dish is a wonderful marriage of of sweet, tender eggplant, deliciously moist lamb, a deliciously fresh tomato broth and creamy mashed potatoes. This dish is GOOD. Really, really good. And I don't think anyone would be scared of these ingredients. If you have all day, please, please make this.
It's always good to get out of our comfort zones. With or without stuffed pig's feet.