I can attest to the fact that this is excellent at room temperature. And let me tell you why I know this. My darling little Chloe seems to know exactly what time dinner is to be served. No matter her sleeping schedule during the day, she makes it a point to wake up just as we’re sitting down to eat. And she’s not interested in hanging out in our laps. She wants to EAT! So, alas, I feed her. And when she is sated, I get back to my Eggplant Parmesan. No longer hot. But still delicious.
yields 8-10 servings
To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, cut a large rustic loaf of bread in half and allow it to stale overnight. The next day, use a bread knife to remove the crust and discard. Cut the bread into rough cubes and process in a food processor until fine (nothing larger than 1/8-inch).
For the tomato sauce:
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small bay leaf
- a pinch of chili flake
- kosher salt to taste
- 2 14-1/2 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 cup water
Place a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, chili, bay, and salt. Continue to cook gently until translucent.
Meanwhile, pour the canned tomatoes and liquid into a medium bowl. Use your fingers to break up the tomatoes and remove any skin that remains. Add to the cooked onions. Use the water to “rinse” out the cans, and add to the pot.
Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook gently for about 45 minutes. Taste for salt and set aside.
For the eggplant Parmesan:
- 1 batch tomato sauce (see above recipe)
- 2 large globe eggplants
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt plus another sprinkle on the fried eggplant
- 4-5 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 whole eggs
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1-1/4 cups vegetable oil or pure olive oil
- 8 ounces mozzarella
Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. Lay them on a rack resting over a cookie sheet and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of kosher salt over them. Allow to sit for approx 10 minutes. Flip the eggplant over and sprinkle the other side with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Allow to sit for 1-2 hours.
Using paper towels, pat the eggplant dry.
Meanwhile, set up a “breading station”. Pour the flour onto one plate. Pour some of the breadcrumbs onto another plate (you’ll add more crumbs as needed), and pour the eggs into a wide, shallow dish. To bread the eggplant, first coat the slices in flour, then dip them in the egg, and then coat them with the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded eggplant back onto the racks and allow them to “set” for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400º.
Heat about 1/3 of the oil in a large saute pan set over medium-low heat. Carefully place a single layer of breaded eggplant slices into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Set back on the rack and salt lightly. Remove any burned bits from the pan, add more oil as necessary, and continue this process until all the eggplant has been browned.
Spoon about 1/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Place a layer of fried eggplant on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon another 1/4 of the tomato sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Add two more layers of eggplant, sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella.**
Cover with baking dish with a layer of parchment paper*, and then aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden.
Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
*The acidity of the tomato sauce will react with the aluminum foil creating an “off” taste. Always use parchment underneath foil when topping ingredients that are acidic.
**Another way I like to make this is to place the eggplant into the dish by tiling them (slightly overlapping) in a single layer, rather than stacking. This method uses a little less eggplant and results in more crispy parts.