Thursday, March 11, 2010
My Eggplant Parmesan
I’ve been making this Eggplant Parmesan for over 25 years now. I know this because I remember it being one of the first dishes that I made without a recipe when I had just moved into the house that I still live in now. Wanting to impress at one of my first dinner parties, I decided to make eggplant parmesan. I was a vegetarian at the time (*GASP*, yup, I was vegetarian for over 20 years), and being young and not the greatest cook, eggplant was about the only meatless dish that I could think of to cook for a crowd. So eggplant it was and it was delicious. My first solo recipe without Mom or Gram guiding me, and it was wonderful.
I often wonder if the accolades from my guest about how great this dish was catapulted me into a world of cooking and baking. If it totally sucked would I still be as into cooking and baking as I am now? Something to ponder.
This recipe has remained the same from the day I made it. I don’t bake my eggplant. I’ve tried it and it just isn’t the same. So this is a dish I only make a few times a year, one of them being Evan’s birthday in October. Let me also point out that no one in my house likes eggplant except me, another reason I don’t make it often.
My friend John, who’s been around even longer than the eggplant recipe, will literally drop whatever he is doing to make sure he gets some of it. He LOVES it that much.
Please note that when I make this recipe I never measure anything. I just throw it all together until it looks right. When I make this, I usually make a lot because I don't make it often. This recipe will make at least a three layer 9x13 dish.
Lisa’s Eggplant Parmesan
2 medium size eggplants, peeled
Italian style breadcrumbs (I have also used Panko with great results)
2 eggs, beaten
You favorite pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese (you can buy shredded or the big block. I usually use both so you get some stringy and some solid cheese)
Grated Pecorino cheese
Peel the eggplant and slice about ¾ of an inch thick. Dip into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. If you are not going to fry these right away keep covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Heat a good inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Make sure oil is hot when you put the eggplant in. Be careful in case of spatter. Fry each piece until golden brown and drain on a rack placed over a cookie sheet. You may have to add more oil, because the eggplant will start to absorb some of it about half way through. Let it heat back up a bit before you add more eggplant.
Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking pan and layer with eggplant. Top with a thin layer of sauce (don't put a lot of sauce between the layers) and a good amount of mozzarella cheese. I also sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on this layer.
Continue layering until you run out of ingredients. I usually use 2 - 3 large eggplants and make a huge pan but use what you have. Make sure to top with sauce & more cheese. .
Bake covered at 350 until hot and bubbly, about 30 – 45 minutes. Spray your foil with cooking spray so it won’t stick to the cheese.