“Sure, we’ll take the eggplant!” I heard myself say as my sister packed to leave after visiting us on vacation. I figured I’d grill them one of the remaining nights of our stay at a rental in the Finger Lakes. But I didn’t, and abhorring wasting food, we added it to cooler for the trip home. It sat for four days before we added the eggplant to our summer camping trip food supply. “I’ll roast them in the fire!” I optimistically told Lori. I didn’t roast them, of course, and on the aging eggplant traveled from Western Maryland to the Jersey Shore for the final leg of our extended summer vacation. About three weeks and five states (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey) after inheriting these things, I stood in the kitchen of the Brigantine Beach house my parents rented and stared at their wrinkling purple skin and vowed, right then and there, I’d eat them no matter what, and then never buy or accept another eggplant again!
But what to do? Lori is totally vegan and I eat very little dairy anymore. The thought of a cheese larded and breaded eggplant parmesan (a one time favorite growing up in South Jersey) didn’t sit well in my stomach. A quick recon of our shore house rental revealed four opened tins of left-behind Old Bay seasoning in one cabinet and a fridge with beer. I was then guided by a mysterious force and serendipitously stumbled upon this amazing eggplant concoction. It is now, honestly, my absolute favorite way to prepare eggplant.
Besides its deliciousness, it is amazingly easy to prepare and skips all those old eggplant steps like salting and setting aside to remove the bitterness. Add because the eggplant is braised, rather than fried in oil, it’s low-fat!
- Two medium eggplants, cubed (6-7 cups)
- 1 12 oz. bottle brown ale (we used Brooklyn Brown Ale)
- 2 TBS Old Bay Seasoning
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 TBS)
- Add cubed eggplant to a large skillet and add entire bottle of beer.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
- Add Old Bay Seasoning and stir well.
- Cover and continue simmering until eggplant is tender, 6-7 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to a gravy-like consistency, 15-18 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
- Using a brown ale, or other non-hoppy beer, is important. Hoppy beers, like an IPA, will add to the bitterness, rather than mellow the eggplant like a brown ale.
- Serve with rice, or couscous, as a main dish, or by itself as a side.
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