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Monday, January 24, 2022

Stuffed eggplant, the Yucatecan way

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Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado
Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado is a writer, artist and educator from British Columbia, Canada. She has lived in Merida, Yucatan, since 1976, where she co-founded the TTT school and raised two children. Joanna blogs at Changes In Our Lives.
If you thought eggplant was not particularly Yucatecan, you would be wrong — as evidenced by this plaque on the corner of Centro’s Calle 69 with 56 and 58. Photo: Courtesy

When I first came to Yucatan, I was very young and had never tasted eggplant. My mother-in-law had a special recipe and when I tried it, I liked it so well that it became the dish she would always make for me on my birthday.  

Chancletas de Berenjena, just how Doña Bertha used to make them. Photo: Courtesy

Chancletas de Berenjena de Doña Bertha — Doña Bertha’s Stuffed Eggplant

Makes four large or eight smaller servings

For the tomato salsa:

  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 whole chile habanero

Cut the tomatoes into chunks and place them in a blender bowl. Add just enough water to puree them, and then turn the mixture into a heavy cooking pot. Season with salt and place the whole habanero pepper on the top of the liquefied tomatoes. Place the pot uncovered over a medium-high flame, and allow it to reduce down to the consistency of a thick sauce. If it looks like the habanero might burst, remove it because otherwise, you’ll have a very spicy salsa.

Habanero peppers come in a variety of colors and are a major staple of Yucatecan cuisine. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht 

While the tomato reduction is in process, place four whole eggplants in boiling salted water and cook until they are very tender (about 40 minutes)

As the eggplants are cooking, prepare a picadillo:

Saute a half kilo of ground pork with the following finely chopped vegetables:

  • ½ white onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic

When well cooked, add ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup chopped green olives, 15 large capers, and two chopped hard-boiled eggs. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.

Yucatán is Mexico’s second-largest eggplant producer, coming in behind only Sinaloa. Photo: Courtesy

Remove the eggplants from the salted water and place them on a cooling rack. Let them sit until they have cooled enough for you to handle them. Cut lengthwise and separate the halves, laying them skin-side down. With a large spoon, scoop out the insides, being careful to keep the skins intact. Put the cooked eggplant into a large bowl. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, arrange the skins, ready for filling.

Measure out half a cup of breadcrumbs and one cup of grated manchego cheese.

By this point, the tomato salsa should be ready. Remove the habanero. Take the salsa off the heat, add more salt if needed, and set to one side.

Mash the eggplant until it has a smooth consistency, add it to the picadillo, and mix well. Taste and correct the seasoning if you need to. Scoop the mixture into the eggplant skins. Top with bread crumbs and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is slightly browned.

Place the salsa and a bowl of tostadas on the table. Plate one or two half-eggplants, white rice, refried beans, and guacamole.

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