Honouring my Nonna’s specialty.
The challenge was re-creating the 'quasi' same culinary experience without having to fry the eggplant.
Admittedly, breaking with the traditional fried eggplant slices had brought on a worrisome cloud. Would baking the coated eggplant slices fool anyone? Well, my Mommy gave my version very high praises...and I fully agreed on this one ;o)
For a detailed post...refer to:
- . > (American / Metric measures):
- . > Tomato - Sausage Sauce (best made ahead):
- . 2 tbsp. (30ml) each: E.V.O and Grape seed oils
- . 2 cups (500ml) total, finely chopped: onion, red bell pepper, celery and carrots
- . 2 large garlic clove, finely minced
- . 4 medium sized, mild, Italian sausages, de-cased
- . 1/8 cup (30ml) Sherry
- . 2 cans x 28oz. (796ml) 'San Marzano' Italian tomatoes, mashed
- . 14oz. (398ml) water
- . 1 tbsp. (15ml) sea salt
- . 1 tsp. (5ml) dried herbs: basil, marjoram, sage
- . a few 'Laurier' leaves (optional)
- . > Eggplant slices: (can also be made ahead)
- . 3 large Eggplants - ('Black Beauty' - makes about 27 slices OR 'Sicilian' eggplants- 18 slices)
- . sea salt (to generously sprinkle slices )
- . 1/2 cup (75g) Chickpea flour (or A.P. flour)
- . 3 large eggs, whisked + 1/2 tsp.(2.5ml) garlic powder + 1 tsp.(5ml) sea salt
- . 2 cups (120g) breadcrumb (homemade preferred)
- .> Assembly for Melanzane Parmegiana:
- . prepared Tomato Sausage sauce
- . pre-baked eggplant slices
- . 1 cup (80g) Parmegiano Reggiano, grated, packed
- . 1 cup (70g) Friulano (or Mozzarella, Provolone etc.) cheese, shredded, packed
- .>TOMATO- Sausage SAUCE: (Prepare Tomato sauce ahead of time...up to a few days if desired). In a large saucepan, heat the oils on medium-high heat. SautÃ© the finely chopped vegetables. After 10 minutes of sweating, add the minced garlic and the sausage broken into pieces. Once the sausage is properly seared, pour the Sherry and let the alcohol evaporate. Add the tomatoes, water and the seasoning. Bring the tomato to a boil and then lower, semi-covered and to a simmering heat for about 2-1/2 hours. Lastly add the dried herbs and combine. Close the stove's heat and leave the sauce covered until ready to assemble the Eggplant Parmesan. Note: If this sauce is to be made way ahead of time, make sure that after refrigeration, you lightly heat the sauce without having it boil.
- . > EGGPLANT SLICES: (can also be made ahead). Slice each eggplant into 1/4 inch (0.5cm) units. Use the smaller ends for another recipe or finely mince it and add to the tomato sauce when sautÃ©ing the vegetables. Reduce the moisture and possible bitterness by placing eggplant slices onto a rack over a pan. Sprinkle salt in between layers. Cover with another reversed pan with a final large weight to excrete moisture. This step is best prepared much earlier in the day or overnight. Note: this could also have been done in a colander over a bowl or shallow plate.
- . Pre-heat oven to 375F /170C /Gas5 and position rack in the center of the oven.
- . > BREADING STATION: Pour flour into a plastic bag and place patted dried eggplant slices into it. Prepare separately both the egg mix and breaded crumb into their individual shallow dishes. Dredge each slice and shake excess off the slices before dipping into the egg mix. Lastly, coat them into the breaded crumb. Place onto a large parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the eggplant breaded slices 20 minutes before taking them out to flip them over for their last 20 minute baking until crispy and tender inside.
- . > ASSEMBLY for the Melanzane Parmegiana: In a large (~9x12inch / 23x30cm ) rectangular pan, ladle enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom. Layer the nine (or six larger) eggplant slices throughout by slightly over-lapping them. Spread a third of the shredded cheeses. Repeat until all has been assembled. Lower the oven's heat to 350F /160C /Gas4. Bake this casserole covered with a sheet of aluminium for the first 40 minutes. Then uncover for another 10 minutes. Leave the dish in the oven with the heat shut off for another 10 minute resting period. It will finally be ready to cut into pieces after it's been out of the oven for another 10-15 minute period.
- . Enjoy Claudia's flavourful wishes at...FOODESSA.com