Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan--the rich version

Since June, I've been going on and on about the Texas heat. It's still going and that brings the diversity in the boxes down considerably. This past week we got probably 2 or 3 pounds of eggplant in our box.

It was time to find the eggplant parmesan recipe. My last attempt at eggplant parm (as I like to affectionately call it) was alright, but I thought a better recipe must be lurking somewhere.

Sure enough. What really makes this recipe is the cheese: bufala mozzarella. Bufala (buffalo) mozarella is a fresh mozzarella. It comes in a ball, soaking in a milky brine. It is soft, difficult to slice and impossible to grate. If this isn't easily available you can use fresh mozzarella, or even simpler just plain ole' mozzarella. There will be difference, but I don't doubt this will still be a good recipe.

We enjoyed this. To be honest, I can't remember if M ate this at all--M is my total eggplant boycotter. The boys both did though. This will be the eggplant parm I make again and again. You can just ignore the older recipe. :)

This serves 6. Hands off cooking time and resting time will be at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours, so plan accordingly. (Hands on time is significantly less....there's lots of resting, simmering, and baking time.)

Eggplant Parm
adapted from Nancy Jo on Food52

3 lbs eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices
1 c flour
olive oil
1 c Parmesan, grated
1/2 - 1 lb bufala mozzarella, sliced (or equal amount of other mozzarella, also sliced, not grated)

2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes (or equal amount of diced tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Place a layer of eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Continue to layer, sprinkling each layer with salt until all the eggplant is in the colander. Weight with a heavy pot or a cookbook or tea kettle filled with water. Let the eggplants sweat for 30 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of medium saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (don't brown). Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and a bit of salt. Stir and coarsely chop with a potato masher. Simmer until reduced by almost half.

Remove eggplant from the colander and pat dry. Put the flour in bowl or small baking pan. Dredge the eggplant slices through the floor, shaking off any excess. Place floured eggplant on a baking sheet covered with a coating of olive oil (you may need two pans. I did). Drizzle the eggplant with a little more olive oil. Bake in preheated 450 degrees oven for 15 minutes, or until browned on one side. Turn over and brown the other side, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in a 7 x 11 baking dish (don't use a 9 x 13"---it's too big). Cover the sauce with a layer of browned eggplant. Sprinkle with some parmesan. Add another layer of sauce, then eggplant and parmesan. When you are a two layers from the top (maybe the 3nd or 3rd layer you've made), add a layer of sliced mozzarella (this will be the only layer you use the mozzarella on). Continue to layer the eggplant, sauce, and parmesan (yes, this is in a different order than you started. The last layer should be the parmesan.

Bake in the upper third of a preheated 400 degrees oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Check the eggplant parm after the first 20 minutes. If it looks really juicy, drain some of the excess liquid off carefully with a spoon. Let stand 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

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