Rookie Chef: Eggplant parmigiana
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • March 02, 2013 @ 10:03am
Lent probs? We made a delicious and meat-less alternative for dinner in the latest installment of Rookie Chef.
Joined by my another family member who is exceptionally more skilled in the kitchen than I am (my sister Kristin), we whipped up an eggplant parmigiana in about an hour and 45 minutes. I played sous chef this time, as we cooked the sauce and prepared the eggplant simultaneously for the dish.
Having two people, preparing steps at the same time cut an huge amount of time out of the recipe. So if you have a friend to cook with, offer them free dinner for their service.
Another great recipe from Food Network Magazine, the eggplant parmigiana was printed courtesy of Alexandra Guarnaschelli. We also highly reccommend you cook from the original recipe found in the Food Network Magazine or online here.
Total time—1 hour 45 minutes (we skipped the step of salting the eggplant for an hour, it was optional)
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 28-ounce can plus one 15-ounce can whole San Marzano plum tomatoes
For the eggplant:
1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (keep the bag handy, we needed a little more)
Freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk (we used 2% milk)
2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Vegetable oil, for frying (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
2 cups grated provolone cheese (about 8 ounces)—we used shredded provolone cheese
We started off by making the sauce. Chopping the onions and garlic, we added them to a skillet with the olive oil, sprinkling in the salt and red pepper flakes. We cooked this until the onions were translucent (and a little crispy) for about 7 minutes.
While that was cooking, we got started on the eggplant and chopped the purple vegetable into 1/2 inch slices. This saved some time for the second part of the recipe.
Back to the sauce in the skillet, we added the cans of whole tomatoes and the sugar. This was then left to simmer on the stove at medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. We also made it a point to break up some of the tomatoes as they heated down. After 15 minutes, the sauce was done and we let it sit on the stove until we finished prepping the eggplant.
Getting a little crafty, we set up a bowl station to prepare the eggplant slices to be coated and fried. This included a bowl of flour, then a bowl of 3 eggs (whipped with the milk added) and a bowl of the breadcrumbs. Having them lined up was a big help.
Taking each slice we coated in flour, dunked them into the egg mixture, coated with breadcrumbs and then laid them on a wax paper covered baking sheet to keep things clean and organized.
Here’s a look at what we did to save space. As we coated each slice, we had the skillet going with heated vegetable oil and fried the eggplant on each side until golden brown. We found our oil was too hot to start with (hence the well done pieces) but we adjusted and cooked the rest to (somewhat) perfection.
Once all the eggplant slices were fried, it was time to layer out the rest of the dish. Using a glass dish, we started by layering out 1/3 of our tomato sauce on the bottom.
Next came a layer of eggplant slices (half of what we cut) and then a layer of sliced mozzarella (half of what we cut), a layer of shredded provolone and then sprinkled the grated parmesan and basil on top.
We repeated this again with the layer of sauce (half of what was left) and using the rest of the eggplant, and cheese to layer again. When finished, we were left with a pan filled with the two layers of goodness. The recipe calls for three layers, but we worked with what we had.
With the dish complete, all that was left was to pop it in the oven and wait to eat. We let the eggplant parmigiana cook in the oven for 35 minutes, checking to make sure the cheese was bubbling and the top was golden brown.
And then we had our final result! A nice and filling dish of eggplant parmigiana, with good responses all around. This was a great dinner to make, especially during Lent and really didn’t taste too vegetarian at all. I would highly recommend giving it a try while the weather is still fairly chilly. It warmed us up pretty quick.
Eggplant parmigiana: a very good dinner.