Finn Walter, chef-owner of the Nicolett in Lubbock, attributes his love of eggplant to his childhood spent traveling in France.
“I grew up with a lot of Mediterranean cuisine,” Walter says. “I spent a lot of time in the south of France and experienced those Mediterranean flavors when I was very young.”
Walter recollects scarfing down the nightshade vegetable mashed up in baba ghanoush as well as roasted with a touch of olive oil—the way he and his wife prefer to eat it today.
“One of our go-to meals, like on Sunday nights when neither of us are working, is roasting a whole eggplant that we marinate in either coconut aminos or salt and olive oil,” he says. “We’ll roast it at high temperature until it turns translucent. The puddinglike texture that you get is fantastic.”
While a simple eggplant pudding sounds delightful, the recipe Walter shares for eggplant churros is a bit more involved (but just as delightful). He serves a similar dish at his fine-dining restaurant, which he opened in his hometown in 2020.
“We do a yuca churro at the restaurant, and we were originally serving it with a tamari–roasted eggplant butter,” he says. “We get our eggplant from a woman named Judy Briggs here in Lubbock; they’re beautiful eggplants.”
Once you’ve made your churros, squeeze fresh lemon juice on top and bask in the edible riches that summertime yields.
- 2 large purple eggplants
- salt, to taste
- ½ cup extra-virgin Texas olive oil
- ½ cup tamari
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons cassava flour, or 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 quart rice-bran oil, or preferred frying oil
- 2 ounces Maldon salt, or other finishing salt
- yucca flowers, if available
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut eggplants in half (pole to pole). Score the interior of the eggplants in a diamond-shaped pattern with a knife, being careful not to cut through to skin.
- Massage salt, olive oil, and tamari into the flesh of the eggplant halves as well as the outside skin. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Roast eggplants flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Allow to cook for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the skin begins to wrinkle and a fork or cake tester passes through without any resistance.
- Once finished cooking, pull eggplants from the oven and let them cool for 5–10 minutes. While eggplants are still warm, but manageable, scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and dump directly into the base of a food processor. Blend until a smooth puree forms.
- Place 2 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs into a bowl. Add flour into another vessel.
- While the food processor is running, add eggs, flour, and lemon zest to the puree. Once incorporated, cool down mixture as quickly as possible, in either a refrigerator or ice bath, and allow to rest overnight.
- The next day, pull eggplant puree from the refrigerator and place into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk mixture, making certain that there are no lumps and that puree is shiny and emulsified.
- Place mixture into a piping bag fitted with a fluted pastry decorating tip. Pipe mixture onto a parchment-lined tray in a circular motion to form a spiral and place in the freezer for approximately 45 minutes. (Can remain in the freezer for multiple days in advance, if properly wrapped/sealed.)
- Once eggplant has frozen, heat rice-bran (or other) oil in a medium-sized pot to 375 degrees F.
- Drop frozen churro into oil, making sure to drop away from yourself to avoid splashing. Once dropped in oil, do not touch: allow to cook. Once a golden-brown color has begun to form on the sides, begin basting oil on top with a spoon to achieve an even, brown color. When finished browning (after a few minutes), pull from the oil with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels. Season immediately with Maldon salt.
- Finish by garnishing with fresh yucca flowers, if available.