Eggplant ParmesanMar 2nd, 2010 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Baking, Cheese, Featured, Frying, Herbs, How To, Italian, Main, Olive Oil, Recipes, Sauce, Vegetarian, Wine
What if I told you that there’s a dish that you can make at home (affordably), be transported into an Italian home and taste authentically Italian? You with me? What if that dish was also vegetarian but was as filling as a meat dish? Look no further than Eggplant Parmesan. This recipe comes to you after quite a few years of trying to find the ultimate Eggplant Parmesan.
The first time I had this dish was in the late 80′s, here in Toronto at an Italian restaurant. Back then I wasn’t really cooking and the restaurant was near my work, I gladly paid for this dish on many occasions. The second time I would this dreamy stack of eggplant was just after Y2K. I had gotten together with some high school friends and we gathered & supped at an Italian eatery on the College strip, also known as Corso Italia. The Eggplant Parmesan as this ristorante was thick, the many layers visible to the eye and the shape remained on the plate, even as I cut a piece with my fork.
That establishment went under and I was left hanging with no place that I knew of for my favourite Eggplant Parmesan. By this time, I had started to cook on a regular basis. I started to reproduce dishes that I had sampled outside of the home. I had tried asking Italian friends, tested out many recipes and until yesterday, I was never satisfied with the end result.
Now my patience has finally been rewarded. This is the ultimate Eggplant Parmesan and it’s a gift from the famous Mike’s Deli in The Bronx, New York. Bobby Flay held a throwdown challenge to Mike’s Deli to a challenge to make and be judged on the best Eggplant Parmesan. With all due respect, Signor Flay lost the battle early.
What makes Mike’s Deli’s Eggplant Parmesan special is that the recipe adheres to the KISS Prinicple (keep it simple stupid) and it’s definitely a slow food kind of dish. It’s absolutely imperative that you bread, dredge in flour and egg then fry the eggplant. The two other “tricks to this dish are to use your vegetable peeler to remove the skins and to thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise. I used a mandoline and the slices should be about 1/4 inch thick.
The baking vessel you want to use depends on how many layers you want your Eggplant Parmesan to be. The smaller the vessel, the higher the stack. For this recipe, I used a roasting pan with 15″X12″X3″ dimensions. Another key part of the recipe that you should heed is the amount of tomato sauce. The recipe calls for 1 quart of marinara sauce, which equals about 4 cups. I simmered 2 cans of plum tomato sauce (796ml) which reduces to about 4 cups.
When assembling this dish, avoid the temptation to overly sauce between layers of eggplant: you’ll end up with something that is too rich and could very possibly end up as a mushy pile. Make your own marinara sauce (like I did) and reserve about a cup of it to serve along with each glorious slab. Serve a ladle on the bottom of the plate (as I did) or pour over and serve.
Finally, I’ve tried going “lite” by skimping on the ingredients used for frying and the result is not that good. You have to dredge the eggplant slices in seasoned flour, dip in eggwash and then in the breadcrumbs. Want a superior result? Make your own breadcrumbs – you’ll taste the difference. The most tedious part of this dish is time it takes to fry the eggplant but again, this step is imperative. Beyond frying the eggplant and making the sauce, the assembly and baking time are relatively short in time and you’ll be rewarded with what I think is the ultimate Eggplant Parmesan recipe. Buon appetito!
1 baking vessel 15″ X12″X 3″
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1Â cups all-purpose flour (lightly seasoned)
4 large eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup of milk
Approx. 3 cups of breadcrumbs (homemade preferred)
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
grated Mozzarella cheese + some sliced Mozzarella for the topping
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of plum tomatoes (796ml), pureed
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heated 350F oven
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add your olive oil along with the diced onions and minced garlic. A add a pinch of salt and allow the onions and garlic to sweat down for about 5-7 minutes. Now add the pureed plum tomatoes, turn the heat up to bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Lightly season with salt and add black pepper to taste (your eggplant is seasoned and cheeses will be added when assembling so season lightly). Simmer until the sauce has thickened (not runny). Set aside and keep warm.
- In the meantime, remove the skins from the eggplants with a vegetable peeler and then using a mandoline, carefully slice the eggplants lengthwise to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Set up your dredging station with three bowls: one with lightly seasoned all-purpose flour, the next one with your egg wash mixture and the third with your breadcrumbs.
- Dredge your eggplant slices with flour, then dip in the eggwash, followed by the coating in the breadcrumbs. Place a large skillet on your stove-top and add about 1/2 inch of oil for frying. Fry your eggplant slices in batches (on both sides) until just golden and reserve on a paper-lined platter or baking sheet. Add more oil along the way as needed.
- Pre-heat your oven and assemble your Eggplant Parmesan. Add a couple of ladles of sauce on the bottom of your baking vessel and lay a layer of eggplants. Top with sauce, some hand-torn basil leaves, some grated Parmesan and grated Mozzarella and continue to layer until you’ve reached the top of the pan. Top off with sauce, more hand-torn basil leaves, grated Parmesan and some slices of Mozzarella.
- Place your eggplant in your pre-heated oven (middle rack) for 25-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with some of the reserved warm tomato sauce, a garnish of basil and an Italian red, like an Ampeleia 2004 Sangiovese.
If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or atÂ http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.
Â© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis
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© 2010, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.