Eggplant Caponata

7 Aug

Ingredients:
*4 tbsp lard, ghee, strained bacon fat (or other fat/oil with a high smoke point)
*1 large or 2 small eggplants, cut into ¾ inch cubes
*1/4 c finely chopped pancetta or ½ c finely chopped prosciutto
*1 yellow onion, finely chopped
*6-8 finely chopped, seeded and diced, red tomatoes (preferably fresh off the vine)
*1 c green olives, pitted and sliced
*3 tbsp capers
*1/4 c thinly sliced fennel
*1 c thinly sliced celery
*1/3 c red wine vinegar
*2 tsp raw honey (optional)
*White truffle oil or extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil (for drizzling on top after cooking)

Directions:
*Grilling eggplant: heat oven or grill to 500 degrees F.  Warm 3 tbsp of the fat to make it liquid.  Place the eggplant on a pan in a single layer (maintain single layer to avoid steaming that would occur if you placed them on top of each other).  Drizzle with the warmed fat and sprinkle a few teaspoons of coarse salt on top.  Mix well to spread over eggplant.  Roast eggplant approximately 20 minutes, mix or toss a few times to ensure even roasting.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

*While eggplant is grilling: heat remaining tbsp of fat in a large 12-16 inch skillet.  Add pancetta/prosciutto and bring to a sizzle over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook together until lightly brown (approximately 10 minutes).  Add tomatoes, olive, and capers, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer covered for approximately 15 minutes.  Add eggplant, fennel, and celery, cooking covered for another 8-10 minutes.

*Remove cover, raise heat, and add vinegar and honey.  Cook a few more minutes until excess moisture has evaporated, add salt and pepper to taste.

*Serve at room temperature, hot or cold. Add a drizzle of olive oil or white truffle oil just before serving.
Excellent main dish for a vegetarian meal, as a salad over a bed of fresh greens, or a compliment to grilled chicken or sausages.

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