Smokey Eggplant

2 medium eggplants
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic
2 large pinches cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
1 cup onion skin
fresh cilantro leaves

Place eggplants whole in a pan in the oven. Turn oven to 375 and roast for 1 hr. or until they look like pathetic wizened things, collapsed in on themselves and completely soft. When you can handle them, cut in half and scrape out the meat. Discard the skin.

Heat 5 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan with a tight lid. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until the onion is completely soft. Add the garlic and seasonings and continue to stir and cook until the onion is browned. Add the eggplant and stir and fry for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Place a metal object (a knife sharpener, a screwdriver, the end of a metal spatula, a small metal weight, or failing all else, 2 quarters) over heat or in a pan under the broiler. Let the metal turn red hot. Form a small cup from the outer skins of an onion. You may need 2 or 3 layers of parchment skins in order to make as much of a seal as possible. Nestle the "cup" in the middle of the eggplant.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the sizzle point. Pour the butter into the onion-skin "cup". Rest your hot metal in the butter until it smokes. Then immediately clap the lid on the eggplant. (If you used a knife sharpener or a screwdriver, it will stick out the sides.) Leave covered for 10 minutes.

To serve, stir the smoked butter into the eggplant and discard the onion cup. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve at once. (Also remove the screwdriver...)



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