Baba Redux: From Good to Great

Earlier this month, guest blogger double-D Dan Doern shared his beloved Baba Ghanoush recipe.  I tried it out 2 weeks ago and had pretty good results, but not the greatness I aspired to. I was missing that much talked about “smokiness” that can be achieved with eggplant.  I thought, “Gosh darn it, I will achieve that smokiness.” So with this week’s bounty, I decided to take my Baba to the next level.

“Fire up the grill!” I bellowed to Hubs as I prepped the eggplant and  garlic (I am such a copycat). This is going to be easy-peasy, I thought. I then waited. And waited. And waited some more. Guess Hubs didn’t hear me, I thought. And as the hours passed, and the eggplants remained on the kitchen island untouched, and no smoke emanated from the Weber, I surmised that I best try a different tactic. The next day the sun was shining again and I gently asked if Hubs would be so kind as to light the grill whenever he might have a free moment, oh, thanks so much.

Once the grill was nice and hot, I placed the 3 eggplants and garlic directly on the grill rack and checked on them after 20 minutes. They looked good.  They had turned a caramel-y brown color from their original light purple, and still retained their shape. I set the timer and checked on them after another 15 minutes (35 min total). Still looking (and smelling) good, but not making too much progress. I was expecting them to deflate, but as this was a first for me, was going by what I had read and heard from friends. I gave it another 10 minutes before checking again (45 min total), I realized that the charcoal was done. No wonder my progress had plateaued. And Hubs was off and running on his next project. Ghanoush interruptus.

We got the grill fired up again after lunch and that’s when the magic happened (thanks, Hubs). It took another 45 minutes or so for a total of 90 minutes cooking time, not including the breaks (talk about slow food!). One by one, the eggplants started to sag internally. I scooped out the flesh from each one and placed it in a large bowl, careful not to include any charred pieces of skin. Pretty cool how the flesh does fall apart from the skin and easily scoops out.

90 minutes later: Grilled Whole Eggplant

Once I had all 3 eggplants in the bowl, I tackled the garlic. The eggplants were none the worse for wear with the stopping and starting of the heat, but the garlic had suffered a bit. Parts of the head got a little charred/burnt. I managed to squeeze out a portion of several cloves into the mixture, further imparting that elusive smokiness into the Baba Ghanoush, but I had to toss most of it. I augmented with a few cloves of minced raw garlic, too.

Verdict: I added the tahini, lemon juice and salt and pepper, and aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. There it was, smoky eggplant Baba Ghanoush in all its glory. The dish tasted so much better than last week’s version – much more complex and tasty and real. I imagine this would be much easier with a gas grill, and now I know that we need more charcoal if using the Weber.

4 thoughts on “Baba Redux: From Good to Great

  1. The other thing that I learned last year is that you can scoop it out and it freezes really well. We’ve had eggplant dip available all year and that’s been great.

  2. Debra,
    I’m so glad you gave this a try again. Its one of my all time favorite dishes. Isn’t it just so much more interesting than you expect its going to be? Lots of steps but I think its worth it. I even prefer making it to calling for delivery like I used to back in my Brooklyn Heights days………

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