Friday, March 1, 2013

Eggplant Parm I'd Shank Someone Over.

So. The problem I have with eggplant parm any time I order it at a restaurant (save maybe once or twice in my life) is that it is slimy. Or bitter. Or slimy and bitter-with the added bonus of  leather-like skin you must chew relentlessly, like so much cud. There is no excuse for that! This recipe, while a little bit of work, will prove that eggplant is a most worthy creature. It will also make you wanna flip chicken parm the bird (ha ha) and never look back. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, as are tomatoes. It kinda makes you wonder how they figured out which plant was damn tasty, and which led to a sudden painful death. Trial and error, I guess haaa. ALSO: eggplant contains nicotine, and to paraphrase Jay Leno: "You don't see people out eating eggplant in the rain!" Well who knows. These are so addicting, you might have the urge to do just exactly that.

Ingredients-(Eggplant Parmesan part):
1 medium/large eggplant (with nice looking, not-too-beat-up skin)
2 c. all-purpose flour (might need more or less)
2 c. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or season your own- also might need more or less part 2)
1 T. Parmesan or Romano cheese in the shaker (adheres to eggplant tighter than real grated parm)
few good shakes black pepper
6 eggs, beaten
at least 1/4 cup salt (might need more or less part 3 lol)
Extra virgin olive oil for fryin up
Shredded mozzarella to top the plants- maybe 8-12 oz.

Lookit that gorgeous eggplant!

Ingredients- (The accompanying pasta part):
13 oz. pkg whole-wheat thin spaghetti (or whole-wheat angel hair)
8 oz. sliced white/button mushrooms (or more if you like! or even other veggies! peppers, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
1 jar of your fave pasta sauce (I looooove Classico vodka sauce, or you ambitious foolios can make your own :p)

Simple and delicious.

First thangs first-- let's get rid of some of the slimy-inducing moisture, as well as the bitterness of the eggplants. Slice yo plants bout 1/4-1/2 in. thick and spread out on a rack (positioned over paper towels).

Salt, salt, salt, senora...

Salt the everliving daylights outta both sides of the plant, and massage in a bit. Don't worry, this salting will not make your finished product too salty. :) Wait about 30 minutes (perfect time for another beer :D) or even longer until the guys look like this:

Like they were on the treadmill.

You see it? Dat eggplant sweat means delicious results in the end. Go ahead and rinse the slices well, but no need to dry off.
 Assemble your dipping station: flour, egg, and the breadcrumb/Parm/black pepper mixture:

Heat a few T. olive oil in a skillet (I've found that non-stick doesn't brown them as well, fwiw) and start a-dippin. Dredge in flour first:

Then egg and crumbs:

And  fry in batches (might need to add little more oil every batch) over medium high, pressing down on the plants with a spatula every so often to rid 'em of even moar moisture til they resemble this:

Lookin good, guys.

Once done, place them on paper towels (much like bacon) to wick the oil away.  When you are close to frying up your last batch, start sauteing the mushrooms (and other veggies, if using) in a non-stick skillet until golden brown, as always.

Always golden brown. Always.

As soon as the plants are drained of oil and kinda cooled, arrange like so on baking sheet, topping each disk with a small pile of mozzarella:

Try to keep cheese off the pan, hard to clean UGH

Pop into oven at 350 for bout 20-30 mins. or until cheese is as golden and crispy as you like it :) Meanwhile, cook noodles per package instructions and drain, keep reasonably warm. Add the vodka (or fancier) sauce to your mushrooms, simmering on low til the plants are ready to come out of the oven.

I also enjoy this sauce with spicy Italian sausage. Shhh...

After the eggplant is out of the oven, assemble your plate as follows: pasta down first, then sauce, then the eggplant on top. This keeps the eggplant at its crispiest. However, if you wanna ladle sauce over the whole damn lot, be my guest. :)

Bam. Money shot.

See?!?! Sooooo addictive. NOM.

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