Aubergine Balls with Smoked Cheese (Polpettine di melanzane con cuore di scamorza)

Submitted by:
Veronica Pravata, Munich, Germany
Neurodevelopmental Biology

Image Source: Author

Ingredients

600g already cleaned aubergines
50g smoked provolone or scamorza cheese
100g breadcrumbs
100g pecorino
2 medium eggs
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt up to taste
Black pepper to taste
Peanut oil to taste

1. Start by cleaning and cutting the aubergines: remove the peduncle and the base, peel them with a potato peeler and, after having divided them in half, cut them into cubes.

2. Fill a large pot with water and when the water has boiled, add the diced aubergines. Let them blanch for 4-5 minutes, then drain them well with a colander placed over a bowl. Then press the cooked cubes with the back of a skimmer or a spoon, so to drain all the excess water.

3. Now transfer the squeezed aubergines into a blender and blend for a few seconds, until reduced to a puree.

4. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the shelled eggs. 5. Add the grated pecorino and breadcrumbs to the mixture, add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and mix everything with a fork.

6. Once you have a homogeneous and compact mixture, work it with your hands, forming balls. Create a small cavity in the center of the balls by pressing lightly with the tip of a finger.

7. Place the smoked scamorza cheese on a cutting board and form some rather small cubes. Place the smoked scamorza cubes inside the bowl that you have created in each ball, then manipulate the edges of the balls by compacting them, so as to enclose the smoked scamorza heart inside and not let it escape during cooking.

8. Pour the Panko into a bowl and bread each ball, turning it several times to even out the breading.

9. Heat up the peanut oil well in a pan with high sides and fry the breaded balls, until the surface is pleasantly golden. Drain and remove excess oil, drying them with absorbent paper.

10. To obtain a lighter dish, place the balls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and bake in a preheated static oven at 180-200°C until golden.

Once cooled, you just have to taste your eggplant balls with a scamorza heart!

Background

I am originally from Sicily, a beautiful island in the south of Italy. It's hard to imagine Sicilian cooking without aubergines. You find it in every market, in every restaurant and certainly in every home kitchen. Because Sicily has been ruled over by many people and cultures during the last 2500 years, Sicilian cuisine is a mixture of unique ingredients from all over the Mediterranean sea. In the early Middle Ages, under Byzantine and Muslim rule, aubergine became part of the everyday Sicilian diet. Aubergines, originally cultivated in South Asia, had long been a staple of Arabic cookery; now they are popular throughout most of the Mediterranean.
Aubergine Balls are just one of the many aubergine-based recipes from my homeland, which reminds me of days spent at my grandparents' house with my family, one of the most beautiful memories of my childhood! Enjoy :)

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