Eggplant Parmesan

Traditional Eggplant Parmesan (by an Irishman)

You’ll Need:

–       2 medium-sized eggplants

–       2 28 oz cans of whole, peeled tomatoes (San Marzano are best), or, preferably, an equivalent amount of tomatoes you peeled and blanched yourself

–       package of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

–       large eggs

–       A few tablespoons of all-purpose flour

–       medium-sized cooking onion

–       cloves of garlic

–       Extra virgin olive oil

–       Fresh parmesan cheese

–       Fresh mozzarella cheese

–       Fresh Romano & Asiago cheese (optional)

–       Fresh or dried oregano leaves

–       Fresh or dried basil leaves

–       Fresh or dried Italian parsley

–       Salt & Pepper to taste

Before cooking the eggplant:

1-   Peel your eggplants using a vegetable peeler or a small knife.  Try and remove the skin only and as little flesh as possible.

2-   Cut your eggplants into round slices about ¼ inch thick

3-   Lightly salt the eggplant slices on both sides and place in a colander.  Place the colander in the top of a large pot and place another pot on top of the eggplant slices with something heavy in it.  Canned food, your leftover pot of chili, or a rock will work well here.

4-   Let the eggplant sit for about 20 minutes.  This is called “sweating” the eggplant.  After that time, you should notice about a half inch of brown, nasty looking liquid in the pot below the colander.  That’s the bitterness and slime that cause some people to dislike eggplant — but we know better.

5-   Rinse the eggplant in cold water to get rid of excess salt.

Cooking the eggplant:

1-   Place flour, whipped eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.

2-   Dip the eggplant in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.  Make sure to let any excess egg drip off before moving to the breadcrumb bowl.  (Hey — you’ve done this before)

3-   Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil.  When the oil is hot, fry the breaded eggplant slices over medium-high heat until they are crispy and brown on both sides.  You’ll need fry a single layer of eggplant at a time, so you may have to divide the eggplant into batches.

4-   Place fried eggplant slices on a paper towel to cool and remove excess olive oil.

For the sauce:

1-   Place the tomatoes in a food processor and grind until they have a course consistency.  The tomatoes should be neither completely smooth nor chunky.

2-   Finely mince the onion and garlic.  Heat olive oil in the bottom of a pot and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until slightly browned.

3-   Add the processed tomatoes and reduce heat.

4-   Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and parsley to taste.

5-   Let sauce simmer for 25-35 minutes.

Putting it all together:

1-   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2-   Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with sauce.  Layer fried eggplant slices and spoon the rest of the sauce over them.

3-   Top with grated mozzarella, parmesan, romano, and asiago cheeses.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbling.  Take out, let cool for 10 minutes, and sprinkle some parsley on top as a garnish.  Enjoy