During our trip to France in the fall of 2017, I developed a fascination with eggplant. It started with Ratatouille and spread to Eggplant Parmesan.
A lot of recipes instruct you to salt and drain the eggplant, but I find this step completely unnecessary. I buy my globe eggplants fresh, as evidenced by their beautiful, dark, glossy skin and then make a point of using them within a day or two. I guess my approach to this recipe works because our friend Cindy declared it was the best Eggplant Parmesan she had ever tasted. Now that is a vote of confidence!
- EGGPLANT PARMESAN
- Servings: 8
- Difficulty: Moderate
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|Center two racks in the oven; start preheating to 425°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Meanwhile, prepare eggplant.||Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.|
||Cut into 24 slices, each approximately ⅓ inch thick.|
||In a shallow bowl, whisk together with a fork.||Flour helps the other layers bind to eggplant.|
||In a second shallow bowl, whisk until loose and frothy.||Egg binds bread crumbs.|
||For a third shallow bowl, roughly tear up bread and pulse in a food processor with Parmesan until fine. Working with one piece at a time, use tongs to plunge and turn eggplant in each of the three mixtures (flour, egg, and then bread crumbs).||Bread crumbs produce a crispy crust once baked. Using a fork minimizes the mess.|
||Arrange across 2 lined half sheet pans. Bake until bread crumb coating is amber (12-14 minutes). Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 350°F.||Parchment lined pans promote a crispier coating as compared to buttered pans. There is no need to turn during baking.|
||Heat oil in a 12-inch tri-ply everyday pan over medium heat until it thins and shimmers (2-3 minutes). Add garlic, cooking until fragrant (1-2 minutes).||Regular (inexpensive) olive oil is used here because heating destroys the subtle flavors of extra-virgin. A wide, low pan expedites sauce reduction.|
||Add remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer, where bubbles continually break the surface without spattering. Hold at a simmer, occasionally stirring with a bamboo spatula until reduced to 4 cups (8-10 minutes).
Tip: After separating a garlic clove from the head, cut off the root end. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife on top; strike hard to crush. Release skin and discard. Rock blade over garlic to mince.
|Garlic presses waste garlic flesh, and a knife is easier to clean.|
||With a thinly bladed knife (a filet knife works well) cut into 24 slices, each approximately ¼ inch thick.||Low-moisture cheese will not make eggplant soggy.|
|In a 4-quart capacity 9×13-inch baking dish, smear 1/2 cup sauce across the bottom. Create 8 towers of sauce, eggplant, Parmesan, and mozzarella:
8 eggplant slices
|A baking dish is nonreactive with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, whereas aluminum creates gray discoloration and off flavors.|
|Spoon 1 cup sauce between eggplant towers, reserving remaining 1 cup. Bake uncovered until mozzarella is amber at the edges (28-32 minutes). Rest 10 minutes.||The extra sauce prevents burning without making the dish soggy.|
||To serve, spoon 2 tablespoons reserved sauce on each plate; place an eggplant tower on top, tuck in 2 basil leaves, and finish with julienned basil.||Reserved sauce adds freshness and flavor.|
This is the best Eggplant Parmesan I’ve ever had. The flavor is outstanding and the texture is wonderful.