That package of duck confit I pulled out the freezer last night was added to the delectable ragout I made this afternoon, then poured into baked eggplants, which were baked a second time, topped with asiago cheese. It’s easier than it sounds!
Usually I make my baked stuffed eggplants with beef, but occasionally I want something richer. This does the trick. It’s a great dish to make for a dinner party, but I often make there for just the two of us because they’re terrific leftovers. (As satisfying as leftover lasagna.)
Baked Eggplant and Duck Ragout
- 6 large Italian eggplants
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bag duck confit (4 duck leg quarters, with fat and juice from the vacuum bag). You can use any kind of cooked duck meat, but it won't be as tender as confit.
- 1 large yellow onion (diced)
- 1 large red pepper (diced)
- 400 grams canned Italian tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, sage)
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- 8 oz asiago cheese (thinly sliced)
- Set the oven oven to 350F.
- Wash and dry the whole eggplants (leave the stems intact) and then poke them full of holes with the tines of a fork. Rub the eggplant skins with olive oil and set them on a baking tray.
- Bake for 40-60 minutes, turning about every 10 minutes, until the skin browns (but does not burn) and the eggplant is soft but not soggy. Remove from oven and let cool. Leave the oven on.
- Strip off the duck skin and peel the duck meat off the bones. Set the meat aside. Remove the fat and skins to a bowl and leave the aspic in the bag. (I freeze the bones for broth. You will use all the rest for the meal.)
- To start the ragout, add the fat and skins to the bottom of a medium-sized sauce pan. Warm over medium-heat until any liquid left on the fat begins to sizzle and you can see the skins start to cook down.
- Add the diced onion and pepper to the duck fat and saute until the union just begins to caramelize and the pepper starts to soften. Add the canned tomatoes and cook until the vegetables start to melt into each other. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the fragrance permeates the air.
- Add the aspic, the duck meat, salt and pepper, dried herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer, but don't boil. Turn off the heat. Let it sit while the eggplants finish baking and then cooling.
- When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop the soft flesh out of the middle to make a hollow. Dice up the flesh you removed and stir it into the ragout.
- Lay the eggplant on a baking tray. (I line mine with a teflon sheet) and carefully spoonthe ragout into each eggplant half, mounding it slightly. Top with slices of cheese and return the dish to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown slightly.
- Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.