Wander the streets of Jerusalem and you’ll encounter tantalizing aromas of smoky grilled meats wafting from the kitchens of steakhouses and street food vendors. This is the me’orav Yerushalmi, or “Jerusalem mixed grill,” and it is one of the old city’s most iconic eats. Locals and eager tourists alike relish the sizzling plates of grilled chicken and lamb hearts, livers, gizzards and spleens with fresh tahini and hot pita bread. The meat is seasoned in a heady mixture of spices and sweet caramelized onions.
If you’re not traveling to Jerusalem any time soon, you can stop by Moruno at the Original Farmers Market location at Third and Fairfax to try chef Chris Feldmeier’s baby eggplant rescoldo. It comes with chicken gizzards and a creamy tahini chicken liver sauce. Moruno means “Moors,” so think of Feldmeier’s rescoldo as the Moors-meet-California version of the Jerusalem mixed grill. Hence, the eggplant.
The term rescoldo refers to a traditional Spanish method of cooking in which food is placed directly on the embers of the fire to cook. The idea is to get more even cooking. If you want your ingredients to cook more slowly, you rest them further from the fire. At Moruno, Feldmeier uses this technique with his baby nightshades because the edible skins develop a crispy char. It takes 5 to 10 minutes for them to cook. Generally, the smaller the eggplant, the sweeter it tastes. For this dish, Feldmeier recommends using Fairy Tale striped and Japanese white baby varieties. But any baseball-sized eggplants will do since we are now at the height of the season in Southern California.
BABY EGGPLANT “RESCOLDO”
Chef Chris Feldmeier recommends using almond wood chips to ensure a slower, more even burn.
3 baby eggplants
Chicken Liver Spread (recipe follows below)
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 radishes, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup red onion, julienned
Olive oil, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Almond wood chips, for the grill
Prepare the eggplants: Grill the eggplants on high heat until charred, about 8 to 10 minutes. After removing them from the heat, lay them on their sides and use your fingers to gently press down on the eggplants until their charred skins begin to split open. They should be about half their original thickness.
Transfer the eggplants to a plate and marinate with the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.
Prepare the garnish: In a separate mixing bowl, toss the red onions, mint leaves and toasted pine nuts.
To serve: Using a spoon, spread about an ounce of the Chicken Liver Spread onto a plate. Place the 3 marinated eggplants on top of the spread. Intersperse the gizzards along the sides of the eggplants and spoon the remaining Chicken Liver Spread over the eggplants and gizzards.
Garnish with the red onions, mint leaves and toasted pine nuts. To finish, add a light drizzle of olive oil and finish with a sprinkling of sea salt, to taste.
CHICKEN LIVER SPREAD
2 oz confited chicken gizzards
2 oz chicken liver, cleaned
4 oz Soom tahini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ lemons, juiced
1 tsp shallots, minced
1 tsp ground fenugreek
Grill the gizzards on high heat for 2 minutes. Reserve and set aside. Meanwhile, add the chicken livers to the grill and cook until medium rare, about 45 seconds. Coarsely chop the grilled chicken livers and add them to a mixing bowl.
Next add the tahini, garlic, shallots and fenugreek to the mixing bowl. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and add salt, to taste. Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together until they form a creamy spread-like consistency.