Smoked eggplant proved the best method for making baba ganoush until my introduction to confit of eggplant and garlic. I credit Thomas Keller’s MasterClass for demonstrating confit technique to me and Paul during the long stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowly poaching these vegetables in a neutral oil adds rich, creamy decadence and luxuriant texture to this revered Middle Eastern delight.
My sourdough starter discard paved the way for a delicious pairing of homemade flatbread that made for a memorable hors d’oeuvres on the porch with a socially distant friend over glasses of white wine blend from Famille Hugel Gentil Alsace.
If you have time to plan ahead, refrigerate the flatbread in a covered bowl for up to 24 hours to build rich flavor. Remove dough to countertop two hours before rolling, dividing, flattening, and grilling flatbread. Grilling the flatbread in a nonstick skillet with a glass lid allows you to closely monitor the progress of the dough rise. The lid traps heat and promotes rising.
Avoid European eggplant which requires more cooking time. Their seeds separate with difficulty from the flesh of the vegetable and add bitter flavor. The Viet Hoa Market in Crosstown offers the most reliable source to buy Asian or Chinese eggplant for my local Midtown readers. Scoring the eggplant halves allows salt to draw out excess water which can create too much steam while poaching.
Avoid the temptation to smash the garlic cloves to release them from their skins. Whole cloves will retain more flavor while poaching. Shaking the cloves in a closed jar helps loosen the skins for easier peeling and keeps them intact.
Reserve the confit oil from this dish after filtering with a sieve. The oil may be used for deep frying or vinaigrette for salad. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
The baba ganoush can be refrigerated for up to a few days, but be sure to cover tightly. Allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Confit of Baba Ganoush with Sourdough Flatbread
- 75 g sourdough starter
- 260 g all purpose flour
- 6 g kosher salt
- 230 g warm water
- 2 Asian eggplants
- 6 cloves of garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of Italian parsley
- 2-3 cups Canola, Sunflower or other neutral oil
- 1.5 Tbsp tahini
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish
- Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to score the halves with a paring knife in a crisscross pattern. Sprinkle kosher salt over eggplant halves. Turn sliced halves face down on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Allow moisture to drain on the towels for 30 minutes.
- Measure and mix all flatbread ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment on slow speed for 5-10 minutes until dough pulls away from edges of the bowl. Cover bowl with cling wrap and allow to proof on the counter for an hour.
- Heat oil in a pot to about 250 degrees. Preheat oven to 300F.
- Shake garlic cloves vigorously in a sealed jar to loosen their skins. Peel the cloves clean. Place eggplant facedown with garlic into a casserole with a bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Use a ladle to cover with heated oil. Place casserole on middle rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Remove from oven.
- Use a spatula to remove eggplant and garlic cloves from casserole and allow to excess oil to drain on paper towels as they cool. Reserve oil for other uses.
- Mash garlic cloves with the back of a tablespoon in a medium mixing bowl. When cool enough to handle, strip and discard peel from eggplant pieces and crumble flesh into the bowl with fingers. Stir remaining ingredients through olive oil into bowl and mix throughly. Break up large chucks of eggplant with spoon. Allow dip to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- On a floured surface, roll flatbread dough into a cylinder. Cut dough into 6 equal pieces with a bench scraper. Flatten each piece into discs with fingertips.
- Heat a nonstick skillet with a lid (glass lid preferred) on the stove on medium setting. Place flattened dough onto skillet surface and cover with lid. Grill for about 4-5 minutes as the dough rises. Flip bread onto other side for 3-4 minutes. It’s okay if the sides blacken a bit. Place in basket and cover with towel or napkin while repeating the process for the remaining dough until finished.
- Serve baba ganoush in a small bowl garnished with parsley and a basket of flatbread while still warm.