Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana

You didn't think I only baked sweets did you? I'd like to consider myself a die hard in the kitchen. I'm willing to try anything once and the best part about cooking is once you know the basics, you can play around and make anything yours...which is exactly what i did with this recipe!

I caught myself watching food network one day and drooling... classy right? but I was amazed... the eggplant parmigiana in front of my eyes was amazing. Crispy, fried, gooey, cheesy goodness!!

I've heard a lot of people have a bad rap with eggplant (my husband included) he describes it as "mushy baby food" well... lets change that!! By taking a few extra, basic steps, it will change everything and made even him a believer!!! Below I will highlight step by step.

First make the sauce.

If you have your own family recipe, by any means make that. We have ours but I only prefer to use it with meat sauce. This is a simple, flavor packed exception.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled, halved, and cut into thin slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole plum tomatoes
Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent, anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Top with salt and red pepper flakes. Add in the tomatoes and sugar then simmer for 10-15 and taste! 
Next (I suggest while the sauce is simmering) cut up 2 whole eggplants into 1/2" thick slices. Lay slices on a cookie sheet and salt both sides. Let sit, covered, for an hour. This step is crucial! it will draw out all the excess liquid and bitterness thus leaving crunchy eggplant perfection! After the hour is up, rinse of eggplant and let dry on paper towels. 

Next fry the eggplant:

  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs (I love panko)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Vegetable oil, for frying, as needed, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. In a third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the oregano and fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Dip each eggplant slice in the flour and shake off any excess. Then, dip in the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Make sure to coat both sides of each slice of eggplant.
In a large skillet, pour enough oil to accumulate about 1/2-inch in the bottom. Heat the oil until it begins to smoke lightly (alternatively, test with a thermometer and wait until the oil registers between 380 degrees F and 400 degrees F). Use a pair of kitchen tongs to add a single layer of the eggplant to the pan. Cook them until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a kitchen towel so the eggplant can drain as the others cook. Season lightly with salt. Take care to reheat the oil back up to temperature before adding another batch of slices to the pan.
Next is all about assembley you will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese,shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound provolone cheese, slices
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, leaves only, torn
To assemble: In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, spoon about 1/4 of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Top with a layer of the fried eggplant; the eggplant slices can overlap slightly. Top with about 1/3 of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with about 1/4 of the Parmesan and provolone cheeses. Top with a layer of torn basil leaves. Spoon sauce and repeat the layering 2 more times to make 3 layers. End with the remaining mozzarella. Carefully press the layers down firmly into the dish once assembled. Place the dish in the top part of the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes. For extra browning, put the dish under the broiler for a minute or two just before serving to get an extra brown cheesy top.

Amazing!!! Enjoy and I hope everyone tries this recipe out!
I would like to thank Alexandra Guarnaschelli for this recipe/show! Although I made some tweeks myself she was my guide to ultimate sublime!! Here is a link to the recipe if you would like that as a resource also:

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