Eggplant Parmesan

My aunt Liz is going to kill me. She said so when I told her I posted the Mofongo recipe (which was hers by the way). “But Chris, what if I want to write a cookbook someday? You’re giving away all of my secrets!” So when I asked her for Grandma’s Pumpkin Fritter recipe she wouldn’t give it to me. She didn’t want it to end up on here. (Don’t worry- I’ll get it one way or the other…) But that didn’t stop me from snatching a few recipes from her when I was down there a week ago. She should know better- I’m crafty. If you want to learn someone’s recipe, you can have them email it to you, write it down as they dictate it to you, taste it and try to de-construct it- or you could simply watch and help them cook it. Yes- I helped her cook this eggplant parm and soaked up every last step. Oh, is she going to be annoyed!!

I used to hate eggplant but am slowly starting to like it. This recipe allows the eggplant to shine and tastes really rustic. I made it for Thanksgiving and my dad really loved it- and he’s a tough critic. I made this on Wednesday, before I left for Connecticut, and reheated it an hour before dinner. It tasted even better the next day (Yes- I had a bite before I left for Connecticut and it was good. I couldn’t help myself! The next day- it was really good!)

Eggplant Parmesan – serves 6

2-3 medium eggplants- sliced thinly
1/2 cup flour- for dredging (more if necessary)
1 cup –  italian breadcrumbs
1 cup Olive Oil for frying- total
1 cup – tomato sauce
1 cup – shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup  – freshly grated parmesan
1. Start by cutting the eggplant, lengthwise into about 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices (not too thin, not too thick). Lay the eggplant on a paper towel lined cutting board. Lightly sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Get your ingredients for dredging ready in separate plates/bowls (flour, eggs, italian breadcrumbs). Dip the eggplant in flour on both sides, then dip into the egg mixture and allow to drip off. Finally, dip the eggplant in breadcrumbs and make sure to coat well. Continue process until all the slices are well coated.
3. Start heating olive oil (or veggie oil) in a pan over medium-high heat. You want the eggplant to cook as fast as possible because they will soak up the oil quickly, but you also don’t want to burn the eggplant. Cook until browned on both sides- about 5-6 minutes. Add more oil to pan as needed during the frying process. When the eggplant slices are browned, transfer them to a paper-towel lined cutting board or baking sheet.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a pan (I used an 8×8 which I think was a good size for this dish.) ladle a thin layer of tomato sauce in the pan- enough to cover the bottom. Add the first layer of eggplant. Add another thin layer of tomato sauce, and an even layer of shredded mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant and repeat steps. Do this until you have 4 layers of eggplant. Generously top the last layer with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and grated parmesan.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook until the top layer is golden- about another 10-15 minutes. Let the dish rest for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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