Wish Upon A Dish: A blow by blow pictural on how to make THE best Eggplant Parmigiana

June 15, 2011

A blow by blow pictural on how to make THE best Eggplant Parmigiana

I have posted about this recipe a few times over the last year but I never really took pics of all the processes along the way.

I know everyone says their eggplant is the best and that's OK. I love it all ways, but.....

Mine is different than mostly all of them. Looks different, tastes different and reheats like a charm.
Most eggplant dishes are either too saucy, too oily, too cheesy and too soft.

Mine is layer, after layer, after layer of just the right amount of every ingredient so it is a symphony in your mouth.

My Mom learned this technique from her best friend (who we all called Aunt Mary)

Lesson #1:
A homemade sauce is essential to this dish. It's easy, if you do not can your sauce, start in the morning and let it simmer all day, or, use your crockpot the night before.
I am making extra to give to my Dad so I bought pork & beef bones, which I will roast in the oven.

Looks like I picked a good cool day to do this.

Start by preparing 1 package each of pork neck and beef bones, onions and garlic for roasting in the oven at 425F for 45 minutes.
Cut 1 peeled Vidalia onion into 8 wedges and 4 whole peeled garlic cloves.
Add 2 sprigs of rosemary, a handful of dried thyme leaves, salt & pepper and a sprinkling of olive oil.

After 45 minutes, I turned the bones over and stirred the onions and garlic.

It is important to get the correct thickness of the slices. Too wide, it absorbs more oil and the skin has a tendency to get stringy and not crisp the way it should be. I try to get them no more than an 1/8".

I do not salt my eggplant slices, if you buy a good eggplant and there are no seeds you do not need to. The salting is when you have a very seedy, old eggplant that is bitter because of the dark, old seeds.

I start with 1 cup of plain bread crumbs, mix in 1 tablespoon instant polenta (or a fine ground cornmeal), and a tablespoon of Italian spices (McCormick brand). Mix 2 eggs well with about a tablespoon of milk and a teaspoon of salt.
Dip the eggplant into the egg wash then into the bread crumb mixture. Pat on both sides and repeat until they are all breaded.

In a large frying pan, pour equal parts olive oil and canola oil. Heat until the end of a wooden spoon bubbles when placed in the pan.

Saute the slices until they are the prefect color. The eggplant will tell you when to flip them. They cup up when they need a turning, then turn again when that side cups up and when the slices are perfectly flat, they are done. Best way to describe it is like a strip of bacon, when the strip in flat and all the fat is cooked away, it is done. Drain them on a sheet pan covered with paper towels. Remove to platter for assembly.

While the eggplant is frying, have your Nudge grate 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and a pound of mozzarella. We do not want the fresh mozzarella because there is too much water in it. We will only put 1 teaspoon on each slice anyways. The Parmesan is more important.

Once the eggplant has been fried, start the sauce.

Scrape all the goodies on the sheet pan (bones/onions) into a stock pot and add tomato paste, turn on the pan and caramelize the paste.
Add 2(28oz)cans tomatoes, 2 tablespoons Italian Seasonings and simmer on the back burner for at least 4 hours, stirring every half hour.

Grate Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

I am making 2 different sized casseroles. One for us and the other for my Dad.
Spoon enough sauce to just cover the bottom. You should see the bottom of the pans through the layer.

Place the slices in one layer on the sauce, cutting slices to fit if need be.

The first layer of cheese was grated Parmesan on both, then one casserole had provolone slices the other grated mozzarella. The provolone is a new cheese for me and after seeing Lydia use it in a few casseroles I thought I would try it. Not all three layers but every other one. So provolone, mozzarella, provolone, mozzarella.

The reason I put the cheeses onto the eggplant and not the sauce is I want to cheeses to adhere and bake into the eggplant. The sauce will bake into the bottom of the next layer and that works out much better flavor-wise.

Then the sauce. You should see the layer under the sauce, do not cover everything, that's way too much sauce. I do dollops. You can always serve more sauce on the side but use too much you can not scrape it off.

Now, we repeat the layers. More slices of eggplant........

.....then cheeses.

Repeat for as many layers as there is eggplant. If I was not making a smaller casserole I would have gotten one more layer in the larger one for a total of 4 layers. As they are now, there are 3 layers each. I covered the sheet pan loosely with aluminum foil and baked it at 375F for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake in the oven until the edges and top is GB&D.

Remove from the oven and let it rest at least 30 minutes.

I love a cut view of all the layers. You can see that a light hand with the sauce still results in a very moist casserole and too much would overpower the eggplant and I like the taste of eggplant.

My Eggplant Parmigiana
makes 2 loaf pans or 1 big casserole pan
* 1 large unpeeled globe eggplant, 1/8" slices
* 1 cup plain bread crumbs
* 1 tablespoon Italian Seasonings
* 1 tablespoon cornmeal
* 2/3 cup each canola and olive oil (pure or light is OK)
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 pound mozzarella, shredded
* Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, about 1 1/2 cups
* Spaghetti sauce

No comments :