Traditional Eggplant Parmesan

Connoisseurs know that delicious Eggplant Parmesan begins with the quality of the eggplant. Choose eggplants that are firm without any broken skin or bruising. Female eggplants have a bitterness to their flavor and more seeds. When purchasing eggplant take a look at the blossom end of the fruit furthest away from the stem. The female has a longer marking than the male’s small rounded spot. For cooking, male eggplants will taste better. Italian eggplants are the compact oval deep-purple eggplant found in grocery stores. A medium eggplants that feels hefty for its size is perfect for this meal.

Stores offer a variety of Mozzarella Cheese and Parmesan Cheese and your selection will make a difference in the end product. Generally, the taste will be better if you buy the cheeses in a block and shred them on your own. Pre-shredded cheeses often have various preservatives that affect the way the cheese reacts to heat.

Traditional Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Eggplant
  • Salt
  • 2 cups Tomato sauce
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • Cooking oil for frying
  • Flour for coating eggplant

Preparations

Preheat the oven to 400⁰ F (200 C). Place a colander nearby and put a bowl underneath it. You will need an aluminum plate or regular plate that nests inside the colander. Select a heavy object that you can put on top of the plate. (Make sure this item is heavy enough to push down hard on the eggplant). For cooking you will need a frying pan and a casserole dish. A bowl or bag of flour should be close by for coating the eggplant slices. Also have tongs and paper towels ready.

Directions

1. Peel the eggplant using a small knife or a potato peeler. Once the eggplant has been peeled, slice it into ½ inch thick slices.

2. Place a single layer of the eggplant slices into the colander, one slice next to the other. Sprinkle them with salt. Place another layer of eggplant on top of the other and add more salt. Add another layer, and salt, and another layer, and salt until all of the eggplant slices are used and each layer has been salted. (The salt will allow the eggplant to drain the water down). Place the plate on top of the eggplant in the colander and place the heavy object on top of the plate. The object should squeeze all of the water out. Let the eggplant seep for 1 ½ – 2 hours but no longer than that. Lift the eggplant out and place on paper towels to blot any excess moisture.

3. Place one slice of eggplant into the flour and coat both sides. Many cooks find it saves time to put the flour in a plastic bag and shake the eggplant slices a few times to get them thoroughly coated.

4. Heat approximately 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan to a high temperature. Dip one piece of eggplant into the oil to check to see if the temperature is hot enough. If the oil is ready, you will distinctly hear the eggplant begin to sizzle. When ready, drop the eggplant in. Continue dropping in slices of eggplant. (Do not fry too many slices at a time because it will lower the temperature of the oil and leave your eggplant soggy).
5. Fry eggplant until it is a nice golden color on one side and then flip it over to the other side. The eggplant slices should take approximately 4 – 5 minutes to cook. Once the eggplant is a golden color on both sides, remove them from the oil with tongs and place on paper towels. (Paper towels will absorb oil that is in excess). Clean out the frying pan with tongs and a paper towel between batches.

6. Begin layering the casserole dish with a bottom layer of tomato sauce. (The sauce will stop the eggplant from sticking). Place a slice of eggplant on the tomato sauce, followed by a layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of Mozzarella Cheese, followed by a sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese. Start with the eggplant slice again and repeat the process two more times.

7. Cook the eggplant in a preheated 400⁰ oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the cheese is melted.

8. Use a spatula to remove the eggplant and place it on a plate. Garnish with a Basil leaf on the top.

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