EGGPLANT DRESSING

Today I am fixing a traditional southern Louisiana dish, Eggplant Dressing.  I love eggplant taste, and I was surprised and pleased to learn their many health benefits.  Eggplant is high and rich in a chemical called phytonutrients.  This chemical increases blood flow, which increases your energy and oxygen level.  Increased energy and oxygen translates to higher brain functioning and mental health.

Eggplant Dressing

1 pound or 4 cups eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 mirlitons cored, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 1 pound lean ground beef, 1/2 pound smoked sausage, remove sausage from casing and grate, 1/2  cup white onions chopped, 2 stalks celery chopped, 5 garlic cloves minced, 1/4 cup bell pepper, finely diced, 1 jalapeno pepper finely diced, 5 green onions, chopped, 1 cup water chestnuts chopped, 1 (15 oz.) can dice tomatoes, 3 eggs slightly beaten, 3 cups cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes,  6 slices toasted day-old white bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 3 bay leaves crumbled,  1/2 tablespoon dried oregano.

Melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add eggplant and mirliton to the melted butter cook on medium heat until fork tender.  Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the ground beef and sausage to the skillet, cook till done, remove from the skillet, set aside.  Wipe out the skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter, add the onions, cook until they start to sweat. Add chicken bouillon, black pepper, thyme bay leaves, and oregano, mix.  Add the eggplant, mirliton, ground beef, and sausage back into the skillet. Fold in the cornbread and toasted white bread, mix well. Pour in chicken stock and tomatoes, stir everything together, make sure the pieces of bread are moist. Taste, adjust seasoning to your liking.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 3-quart baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. Add the eggplant mixture into the baking dish, bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

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