It's a Memphis thing, no doubt. I'm talking about BBQ spaghetti. They serve it all over the city from the BBQ Shop on Madison to the Neeleys' place on Jefferson to Leonard's in East Memphis. What is it, you ask? It's exactly what it sounds like. I took some inspiration from these down-home places and added a modern twist. Here smoky eggplant is enrobed in homemade pasta and served in a spicy sauce. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like...delicious.
BBQ Eggplant Ravioli
(makes 2 dozen ravioli, serves 4)
Special equipment: pasta roller, small ice-cream scoop, fluted pasta cutter
1 1/2 cups flour (semolina or
3 eggs (divided)
1 1/2 cups Roasted Eggplant (method follows)
1 1/2 teaspoon dry rub (recipe follows)
1/2 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
1 clove garlic (minced or microplaned)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
4 brussels sprouts (shredded)
Place flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the mound of flour. Crack 2 eggs into the well. Using your hands, mix eggs into the dough using a circular motion. Continue to mix and knead dough until smooth and most of the flour has been picked up. Cover dough with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl and allow it to rest on the counter for at least twenty minutes.
Into the work bowl of your food processor, crack one egg, the roasted eggplant, dry rub, mozzarella, garlic, and breadcrumbs. Pulse five to seven times or until everything is well incorporated; it should resemble a wet dough in consistency.
Next, set up your pasta roller. I use the Kitchen-Aid attachment, which makes this so much easier. Flour your countertop and turn rested pasta dough out onto the surface. Smash dough into an oblong disk and feed it through the widest setting on your pasta roller. Now, it may be raggedy; if so, feed it through on this same setting until the dough comes through smoothly. Send the dough through the rollers and crank it down to a thinner setting each time. At some point, you'll have to cut the dough in half to be able to manage it. Roll it out to a #5, which will yield two three-foot-long pasta sheets.
Imagine there is line running down the pasta sheet longways dividing it in half. Using a small (one tablespoon) ice cream scoop, scoop one portion of BBQ Eggplant Filling onto the sheet of pasta halfway between that center point and the edge. Now repeat that step every inch down the length of both pasta sheets. Fold the pasta she longways so that the edges meet up. Using you hands, press dough down around the filling. Using your fluted pasta cutter, cut down the length of the edge of the pasta sheet and then in-between each lump of filling. The zig-zag pattern of the fluted pasta cutter will help hold the ravioli together on the three cut sides.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Heat BBQ sauce, broth, and butter in a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Cook ravioli until they float. Remove ravioli from the water directly into the warm sauce. Toss to coat.
To serve, place 6 ravioli on a warm plate and garnish with a few shreds of Brussels sprouts plus a tiny pinch of dry rub.
Roast one 12-inch Aubergine eggplant over high heat on your outdoor grill for fifteen to twenty minutes. Turn it every few minutes until it's completely burned black. Place eggplant into a colander so that the liquid that's produced as the eggplant cools runs off. Once completely cooled, simply peel the burned skin away from the roasted flesh. This should produce about 1 1/2 cups roasted eggplant.
Memphis BBQ Dry Rub:
Mix together one teaspoon of each: chipotle, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, garlic powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, brown sugar, thyme, oregano, and ancho chili. Store extra in an airtight container for six months.