Friday, April 8, 2011

Melanzane alla Parmigiano (Eggplant Parmigiano)

Melanzane alla Parmigiano
(Eggplant Parmigiano)
serves 6
Eggplant Parmigiano is one of those signature Italian dishes that most non-Italians only eat when "dining out" in Italian restaurants which has always been a mystery to me as it is very easy to make at home.  Whether smothered in spicy gravy (Italian/American for tomato sauce) or sandwiched in crusty Italian bread this is one of my favourite non-meat meals.  Even though I've been told it is no longer necessary with "modern" eggplant, in my recipe I follow the "old school" methodology of salting the sliced eggplant to remove its bitterness . . .  it's how I was taught and I figure if it ain't broke don't fix it, just remember to rinse the salt off and pat dry the slices before breading and frying!


2 medium eggplant (about 2 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/8-inch-thick round slices
salt sufficient for sprinkling
5 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
oil for frying
3 large eggs, beaten
7 cups  tomato sauce
grated Parmesan
1 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded


1.  Arrange some of the eggplant slices in a layer in a colander placed over dish and sprinkle very generously all over with salt, add another layer of slices and sprinkle very generously with salt, repeat this layering until all the slices have been used. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant into the dish below, about 1 hour.  Discard the bitter liquid captured in the dish.

2.  Rinse the eggplant well under cold running water to remove all the salt. Transfer eggplant to a work surface and blot very dry with paper towels.

3.  Place some of the breadcrumbs in a lipped plate in preparation for breading the eggplant slices. In another dish place the beaten eggs. One at a time, dip the eggplant slices in the egg, and dredge them in the breadcrumb. Shake off any excess breading and transfer the breaded eggplant slices to another dish. Repeat until all the remaining eggplant slices have been breaded. 

4.  In a large straight-sided skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 400 degrees F on a deep frying thermometer. 

5.  Working in small batches, fry the breaded eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt to taste. Repeat until all the remaining eggplant slices have been fried.

6.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a 15 x 10- x 2-inch-baking dish with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with some of the tomato sauce and arrange some of the eggplant slices  over the sauce to cover the bottom of the baking dish, cover this layer with some of the tomato sauce, sprinkle with grated mozzarella ‘til the tomato sauces is thoroughly covered with it, sprinkle with some grated Parmesan.  Repeat this layering until all the slices of eggplant are used.  The top layer should be tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

7.  Bake in the preheated oven until hot and the top is just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. 

8.  Slice into servings and serve with sufficient additional tomato sauce in a separate bowel so diners can moisten the Parmigiano to their taste.

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