Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Adapted from Melissa Clark, NYTimes


Serves 4 with leftovers


A little butter

1 recipe of NYTimes Cooking Simple Tomato Sauce

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella

1 to ½ cups of grated Parmesan cheese (Get the really good stuff; don’t skimp here.  The amount you use will depend on how fluffy you grate it.  I use a classic Microplane so it is very light and fluffy.) 

6 large eggs

Wondra Flour (Use Wondra, not all-purpose flour; it is granular, which helps keep the breading from being too heavy.)

Plain dried breadcrumbs (Do not use seasoned breadcrumbs)

Vegetable oil (I use peanut oil)


Either make the Simple Tomato Sauce and let it cool before proceeding with layering the ingredients, or make it ahead.  Put the sauce into a bowl.


Beat 6 eggs and put them through a strainer into a small bowl.  Don’t skip this step; it makes the breadcrumbs adhere smoothly to the eggplant.   It's a small thing that makes a big difference. 


Wash and dry the eggplant; don't peel it.  Cut the eggplant into slices about ⅓-inch thick or a little thicker.


Set up your station to bread the eggplant - one plate with Wondra, one plate with the beaten and strained eggs, one plate with plain dried breadcrumbs.  


Liberally season the flour with salt and pepper, and stir with a fork to mix thoroughly.


Coat the eggplant first with the Wondra, then with the eggs, and finally with the breadcrumbs, setting the breaded pieces of eggplant on a platter as you go along.


When the eggplant pieces are all coated, shallow fry them in vegetable oil (I use peanut oil) until golden-brown on each side.  Be careful not to burn them.  Place each piece of browned eggplant on another platter as you go along until all of the eggplant is done.


While the eggplant cools a little:


Grate the mozzarella on the large holes of a hand-held box grater.  I use a Microplane Box Grater; the large holes are "cupped," and make easy work of grating the cheese.  Put the grated cheese on a plate.


Grate the Parmesan cheese on a classic Microplane.  Put it on another plate.


Assemble everything within easy reach - the sauce, the two cheeses, and the platter of eggplant. 


Take a casserole 3-inches deep - I use a Pyrex 11-cup casserole (easy to find in the grocery store) - and butter it.  Then add in this order (1) a thin layer of sauce, (2) a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, (3) slices of eggplant, (4) grated mozzarella, and start over again.


The order is:


Sauce

Parmesan cheese

Eggplant

Mozzarella

Sauce 

Parmesan cheese

Eggplant

Mozzarella

Sauce

Parmesan cheese

And so on.....


Do as many layers as will fit in the casserole, ending with sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Do not end with mozzarella.  By the time I am done, I have used all of the sauce and all of the mozzarella.


Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until the eggplant is bubbling all the way through.  Let rest at room temperature for ten minutes before cutting to serve.