In this classic Turkish dish, whose name translates to "split belly," eggplants are cut open and stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and tomatoes.
Make Ahead: The stuffing can be assembled, covered and refrigerated, uncooked, a day in advance. Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before stuffing the eggplants.
- 6 small Italian or Holland variety eggplants (7 to 8 ounces each)
- Vegetable oil or olive oil, for frying
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes (18 to 24 ounces)
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken or beef broth
Line a platter with several layers of paper towels.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove a few lengthwise strips of skin from each eggplant. Leave the stems intact.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion to a large bowl.
Add enough oil to the skillet to reach a depth of 1/8 inch and heat over medium heat. (Mark off 1/8 inch at the end of a chopstick and use that to gauge the depth of the oil.) When the oil is hot, add half of the eggplants, without crowding them, and cook on all sides until golden. Transfer them to the paper towels to drain, and repeat to cook the remaining eggplants.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking pan or jelly roll pan with a little olive oil.
Finely chop 2 of the tomatoes, allowing much of the liquid to drain away (so the stuffing is not too soggy). Add the tomatoes to the onion in the bowl along with the ground beef, salt and pepper; mix to combine.
Use a sharp knife to cut a lengthwise slit in each eggplant, stopping short of the top and bottom. Use a spoon or your fingers to create a large pocket in each eggplant, gently pushing the eggplant flesh to the sides. Stuff each pocket with the beef mixture, allowing it to mound through the slit.
Cut the third tomato into 6 thin slices and place one slice over the stuffing on top of each eggplant. Arrange the eggplants in the pan, pour the broth over and around them, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Serve warm.
Adapted from a recipe by Dina Sotsky-Doron of Gaithersburg.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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