Eggplant Parmesan is a tasty and popular dish found on menus everywhere. Making your own Eggplant Parmesan involves several steps, but it is so worth the effort!
Curiously enough, the eggplant is actually a fruit and not a vegetable. Even though it looks robust, the eggplant is fairly delicate.
Buy one that weighs about 8 ounces, and be sure to use it within a day or two of purchase. As it ages, it gets bitter and the skin gets tough.
Making Eggplant Parmesan is very similar to making Chicken Cutlets except – of course – that we are using eggplant instead of chicken.
There are six steps involved in making Eggplant Parmesan:
- Sweating the eggplant
- Shredding the cheese
- Preparing the coating for breading
- Breading the eggplant
- Frying the eggplant
- Assembling and baking the Eggplant parmesan
1. “Sweating” the Eggplant:
“Sweating” an eggplant means to get out any bitterness that may have developed by making it sweat.
Start by slicing an 8-ounce eggplant in slightly larger than ¼-inch thick slices.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, over all of the slices of eggplant, being sure to salt both sides. Set the salted, sliced eggplant into a colander and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
By then the eggplant should begin to sweat. (Notice the little droplets of moisture being extracted by the salt from the surface of the eggplant.)
Remove the eggplant from the colander, and place the slices on a paper towel. With a second paper towel, blot off all the excess moisture which has formed.
2. Shredding the Cheese:
While the eggplant is resting, get the cheeses grated. The (1/4 cup of) Parmesan should be finely grated.
And the (8 ounces of) mozzarella needs to get shredded.
3. Preparing the Coating fro Breading:
There are many different types of bread crumbs available at the grocery store, or you can make your own. The post script on the bottom of this page will explain which ones work best for this recipe.
Put the flour, egg, and bread crumbs into three separate flat, rimmed dishes.
Add 1 teaspoon of water to the egg and with a fork, beat the egg and water together.
If you set everything up in a row it will be easier to do this next step. Be sure to get a plate out for the breaded eggplant.
4. Breading the Eggplant
Put one slice of eggplant into the flour and coat both side with the flour.
A huge time saver is to put the flour in a plastic bag instead of just dipping it one-by-one in the rimmed dish.
The 10 slices of eggplant can all go into the bag at once. Gently shake the bag so that all the slices are coated with a fine dusting of flour.
Now, one-by-one, shake off the excess flour and place the slice of eggplant in the beaten egg.
Turn it over so that both sides get coated with the egg.
Now put the slice into the crumbs….
…and turn that over too.
Press some of the crumbs into the eggplant making sure it is completely coated. This is where an extra pair of hands would be great!
5. Frying the Eggplant:
Once the eggplant is all breaded, preheat your frying pan on medium high heat. Add 3 Tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil to the pan and let it get hot.
When you add the eggplant to the pan you should hear a serious sizzle! If you don’t, then the pan is not hot enough. Remove that one slice and let the pan heat up some more. Do not over crowd the pan.
Once the eggplant is golden brown, flip them and fry the other side. It will take about 4-5 minutes in total to brown both sides. FLIP THEM ONLY ONCE!
Place the eggplant on a plate that has been lined with a paper towel.
Before frying the second batch, clean the pan out with a paper towel and a pair of tongs.
Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil to the pan and…
…fry the remaining eggplant.
6. Assembling the Eggplant Parmesan:
This recipe requires 12 ounces of spaghetti sauce. You can make your own or buy a jar of your favorite sauce.
Spread the sauce in a baking dish…
…large enough to hold the eggplant in a single layer. (A little bit of overlapping is fine.)
Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese….
…and the parmesan cheese.
Bake the Eggplant Parmesan in a preheated 425º F ( = 220º C = gas mark 7- hot) oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden and the sauce is bubbly.
I tried several different types of breading for this recipe.
In the photo above, the bottom left shows an attempt to fry the eggplant without first “breading” it. Unbreaded eggplant is like a sponge. It will get very “greasy” done this way.
The top right was breaded with just egg and then flour. The texture, taste and appearance were all wrong on that one as well.
The remaining two were perfect! The bottom right (my favorite) was done with flour, egg and “panko” bread crumbs which made a very crunchy coating. The top left was made with flour, egg, and dry breadcrumbs which made a tasty and very traditional coating on the eggplant.
“Italian” rather than plain-flavor panko or dry crumbs add a nice flavor to the final dish.
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