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September 23, 2014

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Savory secrets to Biscayne’s enduring lamb eggplant taco

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Beverly Poppe

George Bargisen cannot escape his lamb eggplant taco, and we’re thrilled.

There’s no escape from the lamb eggplant taco. “This is a dish that has followed me for a long time, throughout my career,” says George Bargisen, executive chef at the Tropicana and its steakhouse, Biscayne, where this innovative bite is one of the most popular appetizers. “It started out as a cold dish, and now it’s a warm lamb eggplant taco with poblano-tomato jam on top and sometimes a little goat cheese to mellow it out. Just when I think I’m done with it, something will happen and we’ll need an hors d’oeuvres on the fly, and there it is.”

It may be old hat for Bargisen, but if you haven’t been to Biscayne, you’ve probably never tasted anything like it. The “taco shell” is actually a disc of crisp-fried eggplant, filled with braised-down leg of lamb. The flavors may be complex, but the prep is pretty easy. “If you can make eggplant parm, you can make these tacos,” says the chef.

The Details

Biscayne Steak, Sea and Wine
At Tropicana, 800-462-8767.
Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.

Lamb Eggplant Tacos

(serves 4-8)

Ingredients:

3 lb. leg of lamb or lamb shoulder

2 qt. veal stock

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups diced onions

2 cups diced celery

4 cups crushed garlic

2 cups red wine

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp. tomato paste

4 tbsp. oil

5 eggplants (sliced thin)

½ cup flour

½ cup eggs (beaten)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

salt

pepper

Poblano-Tomato Jam Ingredients:

2 grilled poblano peppers (no skin)

8 grilled tomatoes (no skin)

1 bunch cilantro

1 cup water

6 tbsp. sugar

2 grilled shallots (diced)

½ white onion (diced small)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

Method: In a large sauce pot, heat oil and sear the lamb on all sides. Remove from the pot and add the vegetables, browning. Add the tomato paste and brown slightly. De-glaze the pan with the red wine, and add the stock and lamb. Cover and simmer for about two hours. Remove from heat and cool, then remove the meat and pull apart.

To make the poblano-tomato jam, medium-cut the tomatoes and small-dice the poblanos and place both in a sauce pot with the other ingredients. Cook on medium heat and allow to reduce to jam consistency.

To finish the tacos, lay out the slices of eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 15 minutes. Heat oil in fryer or large sauce pan to 350 degrees. Mix ½ tsp. salt and pepper into flour. Bread the eggplant pieces by dipping first in seasoned flour, then eggwash, then breadcrumbs. Fry for about six minutes. Let fried eggplant pieces drain/cool slightly, then fold into taco shell shapes and fill with lamb. Top with jam.

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