Papoutsakia, small shoes, isn’t that an adorable name for a dish? Papoutsakia are baked eggplants, scooped out, filled with a meat ragout, topped with cheese sauce, and baked again. And these filled eggplant halves look like small shoes. Perhaps you have eaten moussaka in Greece, and papoutsakia contains the same ingredients – you can almost say that papoutsakia are moussaka made in serving portions. But for some reason, papoutsakia taste much better than the moussaka, I think.
- 2 eggplants
- olive oil
- 200 grams ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 ripe, large tomato
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- a splash of water
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- possibly a small sprinkle of cinnamon if you like it
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- (Eggplant pulp)
- Cheese Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 300 ml milk
- a little nutmeg
- salt, pepper
- 150 ml tasty, grated cheese and 50 ml more to sprinkle on top
Wash eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise with a knife. Brush them with olive oil. Bake them v 180 degrees C for 35 minutes. Brown beef in olive oil. Add the onion and garlic at the end. Grate the tomato, throw away the peel and add the tomato pulp and juice to the pan, together with the tomato paste and spices. Then add a little water, but not too much, you want a thick ragout. Cook for 45 minutes. Stir in parsley.
Melt the butter for the cheese sauce, stir in the flour and add the milk little by little, until you have a thick white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and simmer for five minutes. Remove sauce from heat and add cheese.
Hollow out the eggplants with a spoon, leave a rind of pulp, something like 1 cm, all along the peel. Chop the eggplant flesh you have dug out, and mix half (or all, if you want) with the ragout. Fill the ragout in the aubergines and top with cheese sauce and the rest of the grated cheese.
Bake at 220 degrees C, until cheese is melted and golden, about 15 min. Eat with bread and salad.
PS: If you are among those who think eggplants get a bit too gel-like consistency after they are baked, you can replace them with large baking potatoes and do exactly the same. Divide potatoes in two, bake them in foil until soft, and proceed as the recipe says. Some use potatoes in the moussaka too, so doing it this way is not a criminal offense.