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Eggplant Parmesan

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© 2010 Helana Brigman
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One of the best parts about having a food, cooking, and recipe blog is that you have a pretty fantastic excuse for cooking comfort foods, or really any dish that may not be a normal dinner choice.  Case in point: Eggplant Parmesan.  I love Eggplant Parmesan! But it’s not something I would make any night of the week–it yields about 12 servings and doesn’t freeze particularly well (partially because of the watery nature of the eggplant).  Thus, make this dish as a main course for a large dinner party, or what have you where 12 servings of eggplant will happily feed hungry people.

This dish is classic Italian cuisine at its finest and tastes like it came off the menu of a real Italian restaurant.  However, it also takes a significant amount of time to prepare–the eggplant requires 2 hours of draining, the pan frying of the eggplant can easily take 20-30 minutes, and the baking of the dish requires another 30 minutes.  If you do make this Eggplant Parmesan, know that you’re committing yourself to a large period of time in the kitchen.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and just get through it because trust me, although this dish is time consuming, it is clearly, clearly, clearly, clearly delicious!

Eggplant Parmesan

This recipe comes from Elise Bauer’s Food and Cooking Blog Simply Recipes and the original can be found here.  I followed the recipe identically in her variation (for other variations of Eggplant Parmesan, see the New York Times Food and Dining section and list of recipes).  Elise notes that the key to making this dish properly is the draining of the Eggplant before cooking.  So, make sure you have 2 hours to drain the Eggplant before you start the pan frying and baking process.

Ingredients:

* 2 lbs eggplant, cut into thin slices

* kosher salt

* 28 oz can of peeled tomatoes

* 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

* Basil Infused Olive Oil

* Freshly ground black pepper

* 1/2 cup all purpose flour

* 1/2 cup bread crumbs

* 4 large eggs, beaten (may need 1-2 more)

* 1 1/2 lbs fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1 inch cubes

* 1 cup grated high quality parmesan cheese

* 1 packed cup fresh basil

1.) Begin by prepping the ingredients: remove eggplant stems and cut them into slices 1/4 inch wide.

2.) Arrange eggplant layer-by-layer in a colander.  Each layer should be sprinkled fairly evenly with salt.  Weigh down the slices with several plates and leave to drain for 2 hours (eggplant is a rather watery vegetable, so this process allows for the vegetable to drain before cooking).

3.) Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients: create tomato sauce by combining tomatoes, garlic, and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Process to smooth.  Set aside.

4.) When the eggplant has properly drained, press down the plates to remove any excess water.  Then, take a paper towel and individually pat each eggplant slice dry.

5.) Meanwhile, grate parmesan cheese and cut mozzarella into 1 inch slices/cubes.

Holla! Food blog hand model Laura Keigan

6.) In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs and flour.  Whisk together to combine.  Place 4-5 beaten eggs in a separate shallow bowl.  Place a large skillet over medium heat and fill with a half inch of olive oil.  Allow oil to warm (heat should be on high medium, but not terribly high).

7.) Create an assembly line with the eggplant, dry mixture, and egg mixture.  You’ll want to work systematically: take an eggplant slice and “dredge” it through the powdered mixture, then through the egg mixture so that the slice is both covered in flour/bread crumbs and eggs.  Add slice to heated pan and repeat until pan is filled with 4 or so slices of eggplant.  Cook eggplant on both sides until the eggplant is golden brown.  Transfer cooked eggplant to a plate with a paper towel to remove excess oil.  Cook all of the eggplant.

8.)  Then, preheat oven to 350F.  In a standard sized baking sheet (probably 10×15 inches), pour one cup of tomato sauce.

9.) On top of tomato sauce, lay a layer of eggplant (about 1/3 of eggplant slices).  Cover eggplant with 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the parmesan, and 1/2 of the basil.

10.) Create a second layer of eggplant slices, cover in 1 cup of sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Add half of the remaining parmesan and all of the basil.  Create final/third layer of eggplant and cover in the remaining parmesan and tomato sauce.

11.) Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the dish is golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 12.  Enjoy!

Parmigiana di melanzane

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