Eggplant alla parmigiana

I am the eggplant (goo goo g’joob)

Originally appeared in the June 16, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

There are many variations of what Italians call “alla parmigiana,” often made with veal, sometimes vegetables, and I’d be remiss not to mention my wife’s favorite, chicken parmesan.  But another notable edible among parmesan permutations is the classic eggplant.

Also known as aubergine, eggplant is actually a fruit which is cooked and consumed like a vegetable.  There are diverse varieties—Thai, Western, Asian long, to name only a few—which boast an array of shapes, sizes, and textures.  But for our melanzane alla parmigiana, I’m focusing on the common eggplant.  Read more after the jump:At the grocery or farmer’s market, select a plump eggplant with a pear-shaped contour.  Be picky about the skin:  shiny, smooth, free of dents or blemishes; the ideal colors should be deep purple or a burgundy verging on black.  Back at home in the kitchen, here’s a little secret to keep in mind:  After you peel and slice the eggplant, lay the discs flat on a sheetpan or plate, sprinkle with salt and allow to rest for 30 – 60 minutes.  This draws out moisture and bitter juices.

Buon appetito, folks.  Accompanied by your favorite pasta, eggplant parmesan is a classic on the cheap.

Eggplant alla parmigiana

Serves 4

  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • As needed, iodized salt
  • As needed, oil for frying
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into medallions
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups fine breadcrumbs
  • As needed kosher salt and  cracked black pepper

1.  Place eggplant slices on a sheetpan or large plate; sprinkle with iodized salt and allow to stand for 30 – 60 minutes (this will draw out bitter juices).  Afterwards, pat dry with paper towels.

2.  In a high-sided pan, heat a generous amount of oil to medium for shallow frying (about a quarter of the way up the sides).  In three separate containers, prepare three-step breading station:  flour, beaten egg (along with pinch of crushed red pepper), and breadcrumbs.  In batches, place eggplant in flour, egg, breadcrumb, and gently float in fry oil.  When golden brown, flip to opposite side.  Reserve eggplant on a paper towel to drain, and immediately sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Repeat process.

3.  Turn on broiler.  Move fried eggplant to a baking sheet and place a single slice of fresh mozzarella on top; melt cheese under broiler.  Remove and serve immediately with favorite tomato sauce and pasta of choice.

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