Monday, 30 July 2012

Polpette di melanzana - Aubergine balls

Many eons ago, in the City of the Sun, there lived a god. He was a fretful god; he lived in a perpetual state of frantic uncertainty, for he was a jealous god. But he was also a good god; and when, every morning, he had finally managed to gather enough courage to carry his most precious treasure from one side of the horizon to the other, the people of the City of the Sun were grateful for his courage. For he was He-Who-Has-Come-Forth, and he was known to men as Khepri. Many modern -ists believe that the ancient people of the City of the Sun, upon seeing a scarab pushing its dung ball with great effort day in and day out, thought that surely the great Ball Of The Sky (what a finer and perhaps less scarab-obsessed poet once graciously called "Heaven's Eye") is also being pushed by a (cosmic) beetle. The analogy appears to be legitimate. However, modern -ists do not know that the people of the City of the Sun knew very well that this isn't so. They knew the secret modern -ists, with all their instruments and calculations and conjectures and fictions and joints and bongs and booze and chickens, will never be able to uncover: they knew what Khepri was actually pushing across the sky. And they knew because it had been given to Khepri by Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon, both of whom at that time used to be the spiritual leaders of the City of the Sun.
Khepri had always been a jealous god. He had been jealous of many things; things good and bad. Mostly, he was jealous he had not created himself with the head of, say, a green lion or blue giraffe--that would've been cool. Unfortunately, when he had created himself, the only thing Khepri could think of was a scarab beetle (might've been due to that nightmare K. would later re-dream). And so it was that his head, according to the convention laid out in §1.3b of the Anthropomorphic Qualities of Egyptian Gods (AQED), became that of a scarab. But Khepri was also jealous because his animal counterpart, the real scarab, actually had something to do--whereas he, who had created himself and was thus not bound to any aspect of the cosmos particularly, was purpose-less.
And so it was that one day he went to see Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry, hoping to get some advice on how to solve his essentially existential entanglement. When he arrived at their palace, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry were having dinner. As it so happened, Divine Cherry had prepared her delicious aubergine balls, and when Khepri entered the room, Celestial Dragon, like the little child he is, was playing with his food, rolling the balls to and fro on his plate (Divine Cherry was laughing affectionately, though). And so it was that a light went on in Khepri's head (literally, for he had hit the oil lamp that was dangling from the ceiling): he would roll a ball over the sky! But it would not be just any ball. Sneakily, feigning hunger, he asked for one of Divine Cherry's aubergine balls.
Thus, in truth, Khepri, the "sun"-pushing scarab god, was not pushing the sun at all from one side of the horizon to the next: he was in fact pushing one of Divine Cherry's aubergine balls.
And so it was that Divine Cherry's cuisine (at that time called something like" iwëfuwpeq-tu-oüàféifaskd-oorrrrrrrrrrrrr-mmh") gave Khepri something to be jealous about. Indeed, she noticed that he was not so much pushing the aubergine ball over the sky, as running away from the gods of the night who actually wanted to eat it.
And the people of the City of the Sun, when they realised that the radiance of their sun was simply due to the brilliance and exquisiteness of Divine Cherry's aubergine ball, changed the name of their city to City of the Radiating Aubergine--at which point Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry resigned (their job, after all, was done).

Aubergine balls
- 400 g aubergines (2 small-medium ones)
- 1 egg
- 80 g breadcrumbs + enough to cover the balls
- 60 g grated parmigiano
- 3 basil leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 25 g circa unsalted butter

Remove the green part from the aubergines. Make some small holes on their skin with a fork. Put them (whole) on a tray and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 50 minutes. They are ready when the skin looks shrivelled and the flesh is very soft. Take them out from the oven, cut in two and dig out the flesh with a spoon. Chop the flesh in tiny pieces and put it in a bowl with the egg, parmiggiano, breadcrumbs, chopped basil leaves salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients. If the mixture is too wet, add some more breadcrumbs. You need to be able to make some balls with your hands. Roll the balls into breadcrumbs. Place them on a tray and put on the top of each ball a small cube of butter. Bake for 30 min circa in preheated oven at 180 C.

Notes: -I've used old bread, and have chopped it roughly in order to get the breadcrumbs (duh). Doing so confers the aubergine balls a je ne sais quoi of rough authenticity.
- Cooking the aubergine balls in the oven is an excellent alternative to deep-frying them in the pan. And if you put a dollop of butter on top of them before putting them in the oven, the latter will cause the balls to "deep fry" anyway: at the very least, they'll become nicely crunchy. I personally prefer butter instead of oil in this particular case.
-The aubergine balls are also excellent when prepared in advance and  eaten later at room temperature, instead of piping hot.
-And if, in the spirit of the balls, you fancy a vegetarian dinner/lunch/supper/tea/whatever, you can do like we did: we accompanied the aubergine balls with a fresh homemade tzaziki and grilled zucchinis...

Polpette di melanzana
- 400 g melanzane (2 medio-piccole)
- 1 uovo
- 80 g pangrattato circa + il necessario per l'impanatura
- 60 g parmigiano grattuggiato
- 3 foglie di basilico
- sale e pepe
- 25 g circa burro

Eliminare le parti verdi delle melanzane. Bucherellare la pelle con i rebbi di una forchetta. Disporre le melanzane intere su una teglia rivestita con carta forno. Infornarle a forno caldo a 200 C per 50 minuti circa. Le melanzane sono pronte quando la pelle è avvizzita e un coltello entrerà con estrema facilità nella polpa morbida. Estrarre le melanzane dal forno, tagliarle a metà e quando si saranno un po' raffreddate, scavare la polpa con un cucchiaio. Tagliuzzare le polpa in pezzi piccoli con un coltello e metterla in una ciotola. Aggiungere il pangrattato, il formaggio, l'uovo le foglie di basilico tritate, sale e pepe. Mescolare con un cucchiaio per ottenere un composto facilmente lavorabile, se troppo umido, aggiungere del pangrattato. Formare delle palline con le mani e rotolarle nel pangrattato.  Disporre le polpette su una teglia, su ogni polpetta poggiare un quadratino di burro e infornare a forno caldo a 180 C per 30 minuti circa. Le polpette sono pronte quando le superficie risulta dorata.

Note: - Io ho usato del pane vecchio e l'ho tritato grossolanamente per ottenere il pangrattato, questo conferisce alle polpette un aspetto più rustico.
- Cuocere le polpette al forno è un'ottima alternativa alla frittura in padella, mettendo un dadino di burro in cima a ogni polpetta fa si che durante le cottura in forno l'impanatura "frigga" un po', diventando croccante.Trovo il burro più facile da prozionare che l'olio in questo caso.
- Le polpette sono buonissime fatte in anticipo e mangiate a temperatura ambiente.
-  Noi le abbiamo accompagnate con un po' di salsa tzaziki e delle zucchine grigliate...per una cenetta vegetariana!


  1. Delicious recipe! I will definitely give it a try soon!

  2. What a yummy way to eat eggplant!!! Maybe I can trick my hubby into trying one by calling them aubergine balls :)