Monday, December 17, 2012

My First Eggplant Parmesan

Last month I read a fun story titled "Last Bite" about a TV show executive chef.  There was a lot about cooking in the book, especially about Italian cooking.  Recipes were included and I decided to finally give Eggplant Parmesan a try.  I've eaten it before, of course, but I've never tried cooking it.

The author Nancy Verde Barr, also a chef, wrote that the secret to good Eggplant Parmesan is cutting the eggplant paper thin and using only Parmesan cheese.  I followed the recipe she provided.
1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs)
4 large eggs
Olive oil for frying
1 1/2 C marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan
Instructions: Peel the eggplant and cut into paper thin slices.  Layer the slices in a colander, lightly salting each layer. Place a plate on top of the eggplant and use something heavy to weight it - I used a large can of tomatoes.  Leave the eggplant to drain for about an hour and then rinse it and pat it dry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat the eggs lightly and add salt and pepper. Pour about 1/4 inch  of olive oil in a pan and heat it over a medium heat. Coat a few slices of eggplant in the egg, let the excess egg drip off and then fry them. Don't do too many at one time.  Cook until golden brown on both sides and then drain them on a paper towel.  Repeat until you've cooked all the slices.  I changed the oil about 1/2 way through because it was getting very dark.

Layer the eggplant and marinara sauce in a shallow dish.  Start and end with sauce.  The recipe calls for adding the cheese on the top but I also put a little on each layer.  Bake in an oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is brown. 

My eggplant sauce was still a little cool after 10 minutes in the oven even though the cheese was brown.  I think it is because I used cold sauce from the jar.  So if you are not using warm sauce I'd suggest cooking the eggplant with sauce for 10 minutes and then adding the cheese on top and cooking it for another 10.

The final product was delicious though not beautiful.  I've added a picture below to try and show the layers. Very, very thin and I have to agree with the author that the thin slices made the dish delicious.  I ate several of the fried pieces plain too and they were yummy.  This will become a regular now I'm sure.

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