For the stew
2 pounds lamb shank or shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 onions, finely diced (I use one large sweet onion)
2 tomatoes, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
parsley (for garnish)
For the eggplant puree
2 large eggplants, skins and stems left on juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cotija, parmesan, or other hard cheese, grated (use Turkish kashkeval if you can find it) salt and pepper
Liberally salt the lamb, then wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to two days. The salt will not only flavor the meat, but it will also help tenderize it.
In heavy Dutch oven or cast iron pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the lamb well and set aside. Discard oil.
Reduce heat to medium, add butter and onions. Cook onions for a few minutes until they start to caramelize.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Return meat to pot and add about 1 1/2 cups of water.
Throw in some freshly ground black pepper and a little more salt. If you didn’t salt the meat before cooking, add more than a little salt.
Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, or until lamb is tender and the liquid has reduced and thickened. If needed, add more water as the lamb cooks.
While the lamb cooks, make the eggplant puree.
Prick the eggplants a few times with a fork. If you have a grill, place eggplants over a flame and let the skins char. If you don’t have a grill, you can broil them. You want to char the skins and then bake or grill them until they are cooked throughout and soft.
Let the eggplants cool, then peel them and put the flesh in a mixing bowl.
Add the lemon juice and mix with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a standard blender.
Heat a large pan or medium pot over medium heat and add the butter.
When melted, add the flour. Whisk for a minute or two, then slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.
When the sauce has thickened, add the eggplant puree and stir until combined.
Add the cheese to the puree and stir until incorporated.
Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
If needed, thicken the lamb stew by cooking, uncovered, until liquid has reduced.
To serve, spread the eggplant puree on a plate and top with the stew. Garnish with fresh parsley.