Sunday, June 8, 2014

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

My answer to people who say they don't like eggplant is always, "have you ever had eggplant parmesan?" It was my introduction to the dusky nightshade fruit that too many people askew without getting to know properly and has kindled a lifelong love affair for me.

Breaded, fried eggplant with a simple tomato sauce and grated hard cheese on top is one of life's greatest pleasures and if you have yet to try it, do yourself a favor and book mark this page immediately!

On many occasions, usually special ones, I've made the full size pan of eggplant parmesan (and here's a zucchini version if you want to try that). But this version is a quick shortcut that can be done on a week night and provides all of the deliciousness of the original in half the time.

The breading technique is what usually puts people off from trying this, but after one try and with this fool-proof method, you'll be hooked on breading everything, 'cause it just tastes so good! The instructions look long, but it's just the precision method of breading that will turn you into a master breader, I swear!

Thanks to my boyfriend for the creative food styling above, note the tiny pink flower of the fern!

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan
(serves 4)

1 large globe eggplant (longer rather than plumper is better)
1 1/2 - 2 cups bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 eggs, whipped
1/2 cup flour for dredging
olive oil for frying
1 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce (make your own)
hard cheese for grating (Asiago, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano)

Combine bread crumbs with oregano, garlic, salt and basil and place in a shallow soup bowl or plate and mix gently with your finger tips to combine well. Slice eggplant in 1/2 inch rounds. Set up breading station: place flour on small plate, than whipped eggs in a bowl large enough to dip in sliced eggplant, followed by bowl or plate with bread crumbs.

Place the tomato sauce in a sauce pot and heat on low, covered until all eggplant is fried.

Using your left hand (if you're right-handed), pat eggplant in flour to coat and tap to shake off excess. Still using your left hand, dip in egg and allow to coat, letting excess drip off. Drop into bread crumbs and using your right hand scoop bread crumbs on top and using your left hand, gently pat slice into bread crumbs. Set aside on baking tray or bread board. Repeat with remaining slices. This method keeps your right hand dry so that you don't get as mucked up with breading.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat with at least 1/2 inch of olive oil until a bread crumb dropped in the oil sizzles and browns within 1 minute. If it browns faster, turn heat down. The temperature of the oil will drop each time you fry a batch, so wait a minute after each batch to allow the temperature to heat up again. Fry the slices in batches and keep the done ones on a plate in the oven until you have finished all of the frying.

Place three slices on each plate and spoon over hot tomato sauce. Top with grated parmesan or other hard cheese and serve.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Lemon Ricotta Strawberry Pie at Closet Cooking
Curry Creamed Spinach and Tofu with Potato Crust at Mark Bittman
Tomato Basil Gnocchi Gratin at Eats Well With Others

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