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SEASONAL RECIPES

Recipe: The classic Turkish trio of lamb, eggplant, and tomatoes comes together in the Ottoman dish Sultan’s Delight

Sultan's Delight (Turkish Lamb Stew with Eggplant Puree).
Sultan's Delight (Turkish Lamb Stew with Eggplant Puree).Sheryl Julian

Serves 4 generously

The classic Turkish trio of lamb, eggplant, and tomatoes comes together in the famous Ottoman dish Hunkar Begendi (HOON-care Bay-EN-dih). The literal translation is "The Sultan enjoyed it," and it's commonly known as Sultan's Delight. I loved ordering this popular dish at restaurants when I lived in Turkey. Cut-up lamb shoulder or lamb stew meat is simmered slowly with tomatoes until it's very tender, then ladled onto a rich puree of eggplant. The eggplant is roasted first, scooped out of the skin, chopped finely, and added to a bechamel sauce with Turkish cheese (kasseri cheese is typical but not widely available here; use a combination of mild semi-soft cheeses such as provolone or white cheddar with Parmesan). Roast the eggplant and make the white sauce while the stew simmers. It's not a beautiful dish, but it's layered with very appealing flavors.

STEW

3tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes, or 2 pounds lamb stew meat, trimmed of excess fat
1small onion, finely chopped
3medium tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
2tablespoons tomato paste
1cup water
½teaspoon dried oregano
½teaspoon dried thyme

1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and pepper. Add half the lamb to the pan and cook for 5 minutes without moving it. Turn the meat and cook again without moving it, for 3 minutes, or until browned. Transfer the meat to a bowl and cook the remaining lamb in the same way, transferring all the meat to the bowl when finished.

2. In the same pan, reduce the heat to low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until very soft and lightly brown. Add the lamb and any juices in the bowl, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the water, oregano, and thyme. Stir well.

3. Bring to a boil, set on the cover askew, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lamb is very tender. Uncover and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring often, or until the liquid reduces slightly and thickens. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

EGGPLANT

2pounds eggplant (about 3 medium)
3tablespoons butter
3tablespoons flour
2cups whole milk
cup grated provolone or white cheddar
cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the eggplant with parchment paper. Set a colander over a bowl.

2. Prick the eggplant well all over with the tip of a knife. Place on the baking sheet, and roast for 50 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking, or until very soft when pierced with a skewer.

3. With a knife, slit open the hot eggplant and transfer to the colander. Leave to cool. Discard any liquid in the bowl. Scoop out the eggplant flesh with a spoon, discarding the skins. On a cutting board, finely chop the flesh and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the milk and cook, whisking, for 4 minutes, or until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the provolone or cheddar and Parmesan, eggplant, salt, and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

5. On 4 deep plates, ladle a spoonful of the puree and top with a spoonful of stew. Sprinkle with parsley. You can also serve the dish family-style on a large, deep platter.

Jill Gibson

Serves 4 generously

The classic Turkish trio of lamb, eggplant, and tomatoes comes together in the famous Ottoman dish Hunkar Begendi (HOON-care Bay-EN-dih). The literal translation is "The Sultan enjoyed it," and it's commonly known as Sultan's Delight. I loved ordering this popular dish at restaurants when I lived in Turkey. Cut-up lamb shoulder or lamb stew meat is simmered slowly with tomatoes until it's very tender, then ladled onto a rich puree of eggplant. The eggplant is roasted first, scooped out of the skin, chopped finely, and added to a bechamel sauce with Turkish cheese (kasseri cheese is typical but not widely available here; use a combination of mild semi-soft cheeses such as provolone or white cheddar with Parmesan). Roast the eggplant and make the white sauce while the stew simmers. It's not a beautiful dish, but it's layered with very appealing flavors.

STEW

3tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes, or 2 pounds lamb stew meat, trimmed of excess fat
1small onion, finely chopped
3medium tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
2tablespoons tomato paste
1cup water
½teaspoon dried oregano
½teaspoon dried thyme

1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and pepper. Add half the lamb to the pan and cook for 5 minutes without moving it. Turn the meat and cook again without moving it, for 3 minutes, or until browned. Transfer the meat to a bowl and cook the remaining lamb in the same way, transferring all the meat to the bowl when finished.

2. In the same pan, reduce the heat to low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until very soft and lightly brown. Add the lamb and any juices in the bowl, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the water, oregano, and thyme. Stir well.

3. Bring to a boil, set on the cover askew, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lamb is very tender. Uncover and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring often, or until the liquid reduces slightly and thickens. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

EGGPLANT

2pounds eggplant (about 3 medium)
3tablespoons butter
3tablespoons flour
2cups whole milk
cup grated provolone or white cheddar
cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the eggplant with parchment paper. Set a colander over a bowl.

2. Prick the eggplant well all over with the tip of a knife. Place on the baking sheet, and roast for 50 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking, or until very soft when pierced with a skewer.

3. With a knife, slit open the hot eggplant and transfer to the colander. Leave to cool. Discard any liquid in the bowl. Scoop out the eggplant flesh with a spoon, discarding the skins. On a cutting board, finely chop the flesh and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the milk and cook, whisking, for 4 minutes, or until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the provolone or cheddar and Parmesan, eggplant, salt, and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

5. On 4 deep plates, ladle a spoonful of the puree and top with a spoonful of stew. Sprinkle with parsley. You can also serve the dish family-style on a large, deep platter.Jill Gibson