Here’s an Amuse-Bouche with an unusual chocolate pairing.
This month (March 2018), over on foodies+, (a food community on Google+), we are running a challenge asking for unusual chocolate pairings. So far, we’ve had 2 entries, one with a white chocolate salad dressing, the other a chocolate beetroot cake.
I’d started making this as an amuse-bouche for some clients last weekend, when the idea of adding some white chocolate to the eggplant cheese sauce occurred to me. White chocolate, with its delicate, creamy and sweet flavour notes might just work in the swoon-worthy smoky aubergine cheese sauce in our Hünkar Beğendi. And I was right!
It didn’t change the flavour dramatically, in fact, the white chocolate didn’t stand out much. What it did, was blend in with the cheese sauce and intensify the creaminess, as well as sweeten the aubergine cheese sauce somewhat. And the vanilla from the chocolate, although faint, further enhances the sweet aroma, as well as lends a hint of oak. The sweet and the oak went very well with the smokiness and the slightly tomato-ey lamb stew.
Hünkar Beğendi or Sultan’s Delight, is an old Turkish recipe going back a few hundred years. There are a number of stories that explain the beginnings of this magnificently named Ottoman dish, one of them includes Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III who was apparently visiting in the 19th century. Whether the dish was created for a 17th, 18th or 19th century sultan, suffice it to say, said sultan was so ecstatic over it, they personified his euphoria in the name!
You could serve this dish as a stylish starter or if you are into the wow factor when sitting down to a dinner party, then serve it in between courses, as I have here.
The original Hünkar Beğendi recipe is above, and we shall be making half that amount to get about 12 – 15 little glasses. Depending on how small your lamb is cut, and how much you serve, you may even stretch this recipe to 20 little portions.
I used Green & Black White Chocolate with Vanilla.
As starters, you will get about 6 servings.
Have fun, and let me know what you think!
Unusual chocolate pairing amuse-bouche of Turkish lamb stew over a smoky eggplant cheese sauce with white chocolate.
The Lamb Stew
- 450g (1 lb) leg of lamb, diced
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 medium onion, halved then sliced
- 1/2 green capsicum (bell pepper), halved, then sliced in 1cm/half in strips
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped, about 2.5cm/1 in
- 1 Tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
- 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk
- 30 (1 oz) white chocolate
- 15g (1/2 oz) parmesan cheese, grated
- 15g (1/2 oz) medium cheddar, grated
- 30g (1 oz) good quality white chocolate
- salt and pepper
- 1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Let’s start by preparing the aubergines. Place the aubergines over an open flame on a metal trivet and roast for about 15 – 20 minutes, turning from time to time, until the skin looks burnt and the aubergines are soft to the touch. You could also just place a sheet of foil over the gas flame, instead of a trivet. Leave to cool.
- While the aubergines are roasting, let’s make the lamb stew. Coat the lamb pieces with the flour, the chilli powder, the salt and a little freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over high heat, add the lamb and sugar and brown the lamb pieces for 5 minutes, turning the lamb frequently.
- Lower the heat down to medium and tip in the onion slices and fry for 2 minutes, again, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and capsicum (green pepper) and cook for a minute, stirring.
- Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano and stir for 30 seconds to mix everything thoroughly.
- Add the stock and bring to boil.
- Lower the heat right down, cover and leave to simmer for 1 – 1 and a half hours, until the lamb is cooked right through and beautifully tender.
Let’s make the Beğendi
- The aubergines should be fairly cool now, scrape out the soft pulp and place in a chopper. Throw away the skins.
- Chop or blend to a smooth purée and set aside.
- Now, let’s make some Bechamel Sauce. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the flour and whisk with a small whisk or wooden spoon for 2 minutes until the roux has thickened, is bubbling and gives off a lovely cooked aroma.
- Slowly, add the milk, whisking continuously. Be careful, the first drip will splutter.
- Cook the bechamel sauce for 4 – 5 minutes until it thickens to the consistency of custard.
- Take it off the heat and stir in both cheeses until they melt. Shouldn’t take more than a minute.
- Now, stir in the aubergine purée, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper until it’s all completely mixed in and you have a beautiful aubergine cheese sauce. Check the salt and add more if necessary.
- Stir in half the chopped parsley.
- Drop 2 heaped tablespoons of the sauce in your serving dishes, followed by a dollop of the stew, including a piece of lamb.
- Place a parsley sprig as a garnish and serve with a small slice of bread, in keeping with the “small” theme.
- Category: Appetiser
- Cuisine: Turkish