Monday, August 20, 2012

A Dinner You Can't Refuse

 Mmmmm.....Eggplant Parmesan is a classic recipe, and one of my new favorites to make.  Kraut and I were watching a Bobby Flay "Throwdown" and we both started drooling while watching. We picked up some good tips and decided to make our own recipe that we believe we have perfected.  I think you will find it to be a real winner, and if you are like Kraut and I then you will probably want to pop the Godfather into your DVD player, open a bottle of Italian red wine, roll up your sleeves, and start cooking!!!

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
1 jar of plain tomato sauce (we are going to jazz it up, so just get something plain with low sodium)
2 red peppers
3 on the vine tomatoes or a pint of grape tomatoes
1 large ball of mozzarella (sliced)
8 oz grated parmesan
5 eggs
1 cup flour
1.5 cups bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
olive oil/vegetable oil for cooking eggplant

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take your tomatoes and your red peppers and coat them with some olive oil and put them on a foil lined baking sheet.  When your oven is heated up, put them in the oven and roast them for about 20-30 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to burst and peppers begin to brown a little.  You may need to rotate the peppers a couple times, also be aware they will take longer than the tomatoes if you use grape tomatoes. When they are finished pull out and set aside to cool a bit, (leave the oven on 400).  We will use these for our sauce later.

While your veggies are roasting, peel your eggplant.  Then you will want to finely slice the eggplant lengthwise.  This is one of the key tricks we learned recently.  We have a mandolin that we use to get the eggplant really really thin.  Lightly salt your eggplant and set it aside. The salt will help them sweat a little bit and hopefully they won't soak up as much oil during the cooking process. Now set up your dredging station.  In a small dish or bowl (big enough to dip eggplant in), crack 5 eggs, add a splash of milk and beat the eggs.  In another dish add flour, and to a third dish add breadcrumbs. Now add oil to you pan (about a quarter of an inch high) and heat it up.  While your oil is heating, take you eggplant and coat it in flour, then dip it in egg wash, and then coat in breadcrumbs.  You will repeat with all remaining eggplant slices, and fry in small batches for 2-3 minutes each until all pieces are cooked.  You may need to add more oil to the pan as you go. Set aside cooked eggplant.

Now its time for the sauce.  Pour jar of sauce into a pot and warm on medium heat (don't get it too hot).  Peel and deseed your roasted red peppers then add to the pot.  Also, add roasted tomatoes.  Chop fresh basil, oregano, and thyme and add to the sauce (I grow my own herbs, so I'm not the best at giving estimations on proportions but I say the more the merrier!).  Also press 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into your pot.  When its warm, turn off the heat and grab an immersion blender and use it to puree the roasted red peppers and tomatoes until your sauce has no chunks.  (If you don't have an immersion blender you can puree it in a regular blender, but don't heat the sauce, puree ingredients, and then heat afterwards).

 Finally its the moment we've all been waiting for!  You are in the home stretch!  Take a sip of wine to tide you over, and get ready to assemble.   In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a layer of sauce across the bottom.  Next add a layer of eggplant followed by a layer of mozzarella.  Repeat with a layer of sauce, a layer of eggplant, a layer of mozzrella, a layer of sauce, a layer of eggplant, and top it all off with mozzarella AND a generous layer of parmesan cheese.  Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes, cheese should be nice and bubbly.
Buon appetito!!!!

And now for the song of the day on the soundtrack of life, what else goes with a great Italian meal better than the Godfather theme song? I say nothing! Just beware that you may be humming this all day now that I've got it into your head.


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