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Cuban Stuffed Eggplant recipe

courtesy of the Cocina Cubana Club founded by Pascual Perez & chef Sonia Martinez

"Berenjenas Rellenas" or Stuffed Eggplants is a dish I well remember from my early years. My Cuban grandmother (we all called her Mama Benita, even friends) used to set a grand table.

When a menu was planned, there had to be something for everyone, so if your favorite dish was a particular dessert, you would find it at that meal. If someone else's favorite was a chicken and fideos (thin noodles) soup, well that would also appear at the table. Sometimes there would be ten of us sitting around the table, and there would be ten different items on the dinner menu! One of my father's favorite was this dish.

3 medium sized eggplants
1/2 lb ground chuck or round (*)
1-1/2 cups minced onions
6 Tbsp butter
3 cups herbed bread stuffing
1-1/2 cup milk (**)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Saute the onion in the butter in a 9" skillet for a few minutes, until onions are slightly translucent. Add the ground beef or turkey, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop the center out and reserve for the filling, leaving 1/4" around the skin. Boil the skins at medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Place skins on a cookie sheet and drain them on several layers of paper towels.

Add to the skillet the reserved eggplant centers and cook until tender. Remove it from heat and while piping hot, add 1-1/2 cup bread stuffing, seasonings and milk (**). Let it cool for 10 minutes.

Fill the eggplant skins with this mixture, being very careful not to break them. Sprinkle with the rest of the herbed bread stuffing and parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 400oF and bake the stuffed eggplants for about 20 minutes.

(*) Today most people would use turkey ground.
(**) For a different taste, you can trade off milk for tomato sauce.

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