Pagnotta di Melanzane e Maiale

Eggplant and Pork Loaf

The idea of doing a loaf of eggplant and pork came to me when, at a Sardinian dinner, we were served meatballs made of eggplant and lamb seasoned with pecorino, sheep’s milk cheese. It may be that at the time I was fascinated more with meat loaves than with meatballs and that I was attracted by the thought of doing a new dish with pork and a vegetable. Whatever the reason, when I finished working on it, it had changed considerably from the original. I like the more finished look of the meat loaf, its compact consistency, and the fact that it is equally good served when just made, or lukewarm, or even at room temperature. Note that the eggplant is roasted directly over the flame of the burner to obtain a spicier, more penetrating flavor.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants, about 12 ounces
  • 1 pound ground pork, preferably the shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup grated pecorino sardo, if available, otherwise use romano
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, toasted lightly in a pan as described

Method

  1. Wash the eggplants and place them whole over a burner or under the broiler, turning on the flame to high. When the skin is charred on one side, turn the eggplant, using flat, unserrated tongs or a pair of wooden spoons; take care not to pierce the skin, otherwise liquid from the eggplant will leak out. Continue turning them until the skin is charred on all sides and cook them until they feel soft. Remove them from the heat.
  2. Turn on the oven to 350°.
  3. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut off the stems. If they contain an excessive amount of seeds, remove as many seeds as you can. You should end up with approximately cups of eggplant pulp.
  4. Drain the pulp of as much of its juice as possible and cut it up coarse. Place it in a bowl.
  5. To the bowl add the pork, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, pecorino cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix all the ingredients to a uniform consistency.
  6. Choose a loaf pan, gratin pan, or baking dish of any shape into which the mixture can be spread to a thickness of 1½ to 2 inches. Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then dust it with ¼ cup of the bread crumbs, distributing them evenly so they stick to the bottom and all the sides of the pan.
  7. Put the eggplant and pork mixture into the pan, leveling it and pressing it down slightly. Sprinkle it with the remaining bread crumbs and olive oil. Place the pan in the uppermost level of the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The loaf is done when a toothpick pushed into it comes out nearly dry.
  8. When the loaf has settled for a few minutes, loosen it from the sides of the pan with a knife and turn it over onto a board or a plate. When firm enough to cut, serve sliced or, if you used a round pan, cut into pie wedges.

Serving Suggestions

See preceding recipe.

Loading
Loading
Loading