Serves roughly 6 croquettes

1 large globe eggplant charred
¹⁄³ pound ground lamb
¹⁄³ pound ground beef
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freeze dried shallots
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Paprika
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon sumac
1 cup panko, ground fine in a food processor

Breading the Croquettes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water
2 cups panko breadcrumbs, ground fine, or plain
fine breadcrumbs
Canola oil for frying

Dipping Sauce
1 cup crème fraiche
¾ cup Greek yogurt
3 bunch dill chopped fine
Zest from two lemons

Saffron Couscous
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots)
1 ¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of saffron threads
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup couscous
½ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped Marcona almonds


Poke eggplant a couple times with a dinner fork. Place eggplant under the broiler, set on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet a couple of inches from the heat and cook until charred all over, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, cover with a lid and let them rest until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Remove the charred skin from the eggplant and chop the flesh to a fine dice, place in a bowl and refrigerate. Once chilled add in raw (they will cook in the process) lamb, beef, salt, garlic, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, sumac, and ground panko. Mix well. Use a tablespoon to form round croquettes about the size of a quarter.

Breading the Croquettes
Prepare the croquettes: Set up a standard breading station of three containers: our, egg and water mixture, and the ground panko. Bread each piece, dipping in our, egg mixture then panko. Heat fryer to 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the croquettes until golden on all sides and piping hot in the center. Remove cooked croquettes and drain on a baker’s rack to maintain crispness (rather than a paper towel or plate, which will encourage steaming and sogginess). Sprinkle with a little salt while still very hot and serve with dipping sauce. Pairs wonderfully
with our Cabernet Franc.

Dipping Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Saffron Couscous
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook them over medium-low heat until translucent, about three minutes. Add the chicken stock, saffron, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and frozen peas and return to a boil. Turn off heat, cover the pan, and set aside for 6 minutes. Add parsley and chopped almonds and fluff with a fork to combine. Serve hot.

Courtesy of Mark Caldwell, Executive Chef Davis Estates