I have always liked veal and chicken parm. It’s deliciously fried goodness. Until last week, I thought I had always liked it because of the meat.
I was wrong.
Apparently, I just like things that are battered and fried. Eggplant parm delivers both of those, while still coming together as a rather healthy dish.
While we were munching on our eggplant, I was joking about how this dinner is pretty meaty for being vegetarian. Honestly, you cannot tell there is no meat involved. Not even close.
Which brings me to the eggplant. One of these days I have to try some straight up, because I am not really sure if it tastes like much on it’s own. This sort of soaked up the tomato sauce and the bread crumbs when we fried it. I was always a little turned off by the appearance of eggplant, until I said, “What the hell,” and took the plunge.
Turns out, I like it. A lot. Enough to spend an hour on it at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday.
As of late, Feaston hasn’t really known where to start with meals. We’ve been doing this for a while now and we’re running out of our signature dishes. Now we’re branching out. Hence, the eggplant.
We consulted the Fannie Farmer cookbook and Simply Recipes for tips on where to begin. We changed a few steps from the Simply Recipe recipe, so pay attention.
First thing you are gonna want to do is slice you eggplant into about half-inch slices, salt them and arrange them in a collander to drain. Let them sit for about an hour like this.
Once you’ve done that, you are going to set up your assembly line. It goes like this: Flour, two eggs beaten, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
This next step works best as a two-man operation. While you’re battering the slices, you’re gonna want someone to look after the olive oil, of which you should pour a generous amount into a large frying pan. Set it to medium and watch for it to slightly smoke. That’s how you know you’re ready to fry.
While you’ve got the oil heating up, batter each slice of eggplant. First with flour and brush off the excess. Then with egg and finish it with a healthy coating of bread crumbs.
When everything it set, arrange them in the pan, without crowding them too much. They should make a lovely sizzling sound. A quick note about olive oil: It doesn’t take much heat to get the oil to smoke. Olive oil has a very low tolerance for heat and the best you will be able to do is medium heat.
While moving the slices around in the pan, we used a set of thongs. They worked the best, because it reduces your chance of scraping off all that yummy breading. The above photo shows one side which has been fried to perfection.
After the slices have been fried, place them on a piece of paper towel to drain off the extra oil. While they are doing that, coat the bottom of a glass baking pan with tomato sauce of your choice. Then arrange the slices in the bottom of the pan.
You’re going to have a few layers here, depending on how many slices you made. The layers from the glass up go like this: Tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella cheese, basil, eggplant, sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Bake them for about 10 to 15 minutes. This gets the cheese all melty and gooey.
Serve with pasta.
You’re not even going to miss the meat. But if you do, you can always check out Feaston’s chicken parm.