A one pot celebration of lamb and eggplant, stewed to tender perfection in a sumptuous red sauce.
Part of what is so simple about this dish is the ingredients list. It contains just a handful of ingredients and yet produces such melt in the mouth morsels of meat that convey a real richness of flavour.
The recipe also provides lots of opportunities for substitutions. While this dish calls for eggplant, cauliflower is a great alternative as it also absorbs the flavours of the sauce beautifully.
Just a couple of points that could a make difference. Make sure you ‘cook out the rawness’ of the tomato paste. You’ll know that’s happened when the olive oil has turned red. I use a supermarket brand triple concentrate tomato paste which has a thick consistency. I have posted a photo of it in my Greek Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice and Herbs recipe.
Some recipes call for ‘sweating’ the eggplant to remove any bitterness and excess water. This is done by cutting the eggplant into the desired shape, salting it lightly and letting it rest in a colander for 30 minutes. This process also serves to tenderise the eggplant and make it less pervious to absorbing liquids. However, for this recipe, you really want the eggplant to absorb the flavours of the sauce. Tenderising it will cause it to be too fragile and it won’t hold its shape during the cooking process.
Add the eggplant when the lamb is almost ready. This is important as you don’t want it to become mushy. Don’t worry about overcooking the lamb; the worst that can happen is that the meat will fall off the bones. Depending on how you would like to serve this dish, for example, mixed through pasta, you may need to remove the bones regardless. Finally, if you feel that the sauce is a little too thick for your liking, add more water or stock. If the sauce looks a little too thin, remove the cover when simmering.
While there is a little to do in terms of preparation, don’t be put off by the time it takes to cook this dish. It will do most of the hard work on its own.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours Serves: 4 – 6
- 750 g – 1 kg (1.5 – 2 lbs) lamb chump chops (Note 1)
- 1 medium eggplant (roughly 500 g /1 lb)
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 – 6 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped finely
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 500 ml (17 fl oz) water or stock
- 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp parsley or sprigs of thyme (optional)
- Remove any excess fat from the lamb chump chops. Cut into desired portion size. (Note 2)
- In a medium size pot, dry fry the lamb over high heat until all sides are nicely browned. Remove the lamb and set aside. Leave any juices released by the lamb in the pot. (Note 3)
- Turn the heat down to medium – low. Add the olive oil and saute the onions until they are very soft and golden. Add the garlic and continue to saute for a further minute.
- Turn the heat up to medium – high and return the lamb to the pot. Add the tomato paste and stir to ensure all sides of the lamb are coated. Saute until the oil in the bottom of the pot turns red.
- Pour warm water or stock into the pot. Season to taste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/4 hours. (Note 4)
- When the meat is almost ready, cut the eggplant to shape. Add the eggplant portions to the pot and gently stir so that they are well coated with the sauce. Cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes or until cooked through.
- Serve over a bed of hot rice or mixed through your favourite pasta. Don’t forget to garnish with parsley or sprigs of thyme.
- Lamb chump chops may also be sold as forequarter chops or shoulder chops. It just depends on where you buy them.
- I prefer to cut my chops into chunky portions. The size depends on your preference.
- To dry fry the lamb, fry it without any oil or fat in the pot.
- To test for tenderness, pierce the lamb with a knife. You’ll know the meat is ready when the knife easily passes through the meat.