Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recipe Time Out: Buddy's Best Eggplant Parmesan

OK, I’ve been keeping this one up my sleeve for a while.  I’ve hesitated to share it for two reasons:  (1) it’s not a recipe of my own creation or from family or friends; and (2) I’m afraid that once people will know about it I won’t look like such a great cook to people I’ve made it for. 


But, for the sake of the blog, and to thank my loyal readers for their patronage, I give you…  Eggplant Parmesan, from the TLC show “Kitchen Boss,” hosted by Buddy Valastro, a.k.a. the Cake Boss.


Some people might be afraid of eggplant because it can sometimes taste bitter.  I know I was, but I’ve never had an issue with bitterness using this recipe.  Also, even though it’s vegetarian, I’ve been assured by meat lovers that it is very filling in a stick-to-your-ribs kind of way.  It is a little labor-intensive, though, so be sure you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time to make it, or enlist an assistant (even a willing child can help, since there’s no cutting involved after slicing the eggplant).


Ingredients


2 medium-to-large eggplants, peeled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup grated parmesan, divided, plus another 6 Tablespoons
6 large eggs
2 cups breadcrumbs (you can make your own, but I just buy them)
12 oz. sliced mozzarella
3 cups of any marinara sauce (again, homemade or store-bought)
Olive oil, as needed, for frying


Instructions
 

Cut peeled eggplants into ¼-inch rounds.  Set in a colander, salt them liberally and let them “weep set”* for one hour.  Dry by patting them with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly oil a 9” x 13” baking dish and cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinara sauce.

Set up your dredging station for the slices.  I use pie plates, but a regular plate or wax paper is fine, too.  Flour is your first station.  Next to the flour, set your eggs, which are beaten with ½ cup of the grated parmesan.  Finally, the breadcrumbs, mixed with the other half cup of the parm.

Heat a large skillet medium-high and add enough olive oil to come up a bit on the sides.  Dip the slices in flour (tap off excess), then eggs, then breadcrumbs.**  Fry the slices in the oil until they are golden brown on each side (maybe 3-4 minutes total).  As you remove them from the oil, place them on a baking rack with paper towels underneath to drain.  Salt the fried slices.

Now you’re ready to start building your dish!  I don’t wait until all the slices have been fried.  Since I have a small kitchen, the counters get crowded fast.

Place an overlapping layer of eggplant in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with two tablespoons of the grated parmesan (remember, you should still have 6 Tbsp. left).  Ladle over a layer of sauce.  Cover with a layer of mozzarella slices.  Repeat:  eggplant, parm, sauce, mozzarella.  Finish off with the last two tablespoons of parmesan.

Bake approximately 20-30 minutes, until it’s hot and the cheese is bubbling.  Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.  I like to serve it over spaghetti or angel hair, but you may need a little more sauce with it.

Serves 6, but is great left over!


For more recipes from “Kitchen Boss,” click here.


*I leave the colander with the eggplant in the fridge.  If you take a peek during the hour, the slices may look like they’re actually weeping—water beads up on the surface.

**Your fingers will soon be caked with egg and breadcrumbs, so for the sake of efficiency, I use my left hand for dipping in the flour, then my right for the eggs and breadcrumbs.  That way, only one set of fingers becomes a sticky glove of gunk.

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