Papoutsakia-odyssey-poros-greece

Papoutsakia – stuffed eggplants

Maybe you remember it from my previous blog about the Melitzanosalata; one of my most favorite vegetables is the eggplant, or aubergine as many of my friends in Holland say.

The ones I planted on my farm in the springtime are still producing beautiful and big eggplants! As it is one of my important principles to not throw away anything, you will understand that I am using all the eggplant recipes I know and even trying to find new ones.

A recipe called shoe

One of my favorite eggplant recipes, worshipped by many friends, has a somewhat funny name: it is called ‘shoe’ or ‘little shoes’. Translated in Greeklish it sounds like paputsakia. It’s a traditional recipe, perfect in taste, easy to make and needs lots of eggplants.

Traditional Greek shoes

When one looks at the appearance of the dish once it is ready, it is not difficult to understand why this recipe got this funny name in the first place. Papoutsakia has many similarities with shoes and even more so with the traditional shoes (tsaruchia) that are worn with the traditional uniforms of men of mainland Greece, the so-called Tsoliades. These shoes were made of leather and had a round tassel on the front top.

The Tsoliades in Athens

The traditional shoes Tsaruchia

Of course the eggplant shoes are softer and more delicious and fluffy. They certainly smell nicer than the tsaruchia, which have a fame of their own in Greece just because of their ‘special’ smell, one that is not among the most attractive in this world…

Making Papoutsakia

Let’s get started! Get 4 medium eggplants….

Eggplants for the papoutsakia

Wash the eggplants very well, cut them in 2 pieces and carve them crosswise.

Cut the eggplants before they go into the oven

I no longer fry the eggplants, but bake them in the oven for a lighter result. Put the eggplants in a baking tray with the skin facing down and the carved flesh up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake the eggplants for 20 to 30 min or until the flesh is soft.

Making papoutsakia

Prepare the meat and béchamel sauce for the Papoutsakia. Sprinkle the shells with the cheese, fill each of them with the meat sauce and add some cheese again.

Papoutsakia almost ready for the oven

Add the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Topping the papoutsakia with béchamel sauce

When the Papoutsakia comes out of the oven the béchamel should be golden brown. Serve the stuffed eggplants as a starter or main dish with a nice Greek salad and some crusty bread. Enjoy!

Papoutsakia

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Instructions

  1. Wash the eggplants very well and cut them in 2 pieces. Carve them crosswise and set them in a baking tray with the skin facing down and the carved flesh up. Preheat the oven at 180 ˚C or 350 ˚F. Drizzle the eggplants with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 30 min or until the flesh is soft.
  2. In the meantime prepare the meat sauce and heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onion and when soft add the beef and the garlic. Break up the meat with a wooden fork until it has a loose texture. Add the wine and let it cook for 7 minutes. Add cinnamon, chopped tomatoes, oregano and salt and pepper to the casserole. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.
  3. Prepare the béchamel sauce for the Papoutsakia. Use a large pan to melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add the milk all at once, keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Remove the pan from the stove, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Continue whisking and stir in the eggs. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning into an omelet!
  4. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Put eggplant shells cut side up in a baking sheet. Sprinkle the shells with the cheese, fill each of them with the meat sauce and add some cheese again. Spoon béchamel on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until eggplants are tender, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil and cook until the béchamel is golden brown.
  5. Serve this delicious Greek stuffed eggplant dish as a starter or main dish with a nice Greek salad and some crusty bread. Enjoy!