This is the standard for Eggplant Parmigiana at any Italian Restaurant or Pizzeria in the United States. I’m not knocking it, on the contrary, I could eat this every day. But this is not the way my grandmother used to make Eggplant Parmigiana. Back in November of 2010 I posted Grandma’s Eggplant Parmigiana here. This dish and my Grandma’s dish are very different. Grandma did not bread the eggplant and she did not use mozzarella cheese in the layers. Other than that, they are similar. What version you like best you will have to judge for yourself. I like them both.
This is the classic recipe for eggplant parmigiana, except I like to use grated sharp provolone along with the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. I think it adds a little more depth to the dish. This dish has a lot of steps and is very time-consuming to prepare, so I make enough to freeze a tray for another meal. The end results is well worth your effort and time and whatever you don’t get to finish at the first meal only gets better the next day, warm or cold.
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1/2 or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, according to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cans of San Marzano peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 3 medium eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch rounds
- kosher salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons of whole milk
- 4 cups Italian flavored breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- peanut oil for frying as needed
- 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1 pound sharp provolone, grated
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh torn basil leaves
Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. I leave the skin on. Salt each side of the cut eggplant and place either on a colander to drain or a sheet pan. Let sit for one hour. This salting draws out the bitterness of the eggplant. At the end of the hour rinse the eggplant with cool water and dry well with paper towel or dish towel. Set aside.
After you salted your eggplant you can start on the sauce while the eggplant sit for an hour. In a large sauce pot heat the olive oil on medium flame. Add the onions, garlic, a sprinkling of salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minuets or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the cans of San Marzano tomatoes and sugar. You can crush the tomatoes by hand as you place them in the pot or toss in all three cans of tomatoes and mash down the tomatoes with a potato masher, just to break them up.
You’re looking for a chunky tomato sauce so you don’t have to make puree out of it. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until thickened. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside.
While the sauce is cooking you can start your assembly line to bread and fry the eggplant. I use 3 – 9″x 9″ aluminum pans to hold the flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. In one pan or plate add your flour and a good sprinkle of salt and black pepper. In the second pan beat the 6 eggs with milk, season with salt and pepper and in the third pan add the flavored breadcrumbs and oregano.
Take your dried eggplant and coat it in the flour first, then dip into the egg wash to cover the entire eggplant, then bread them on both sides. Try and keep one hand for the wet ingredients and the other hand for the dry ingredients so you don’t get all your fingers “caked up”. But I don’t care how hard you try, your hands will be a mess. Not to worry, it all washes off. Place the breaded eggplant on a sheet pan until you are ready to fry them.
In a large skillet or saute pan heat about 1/2″ of oil on medium high heat, until the oil reaches about 380 degrees. Fry each eggplant in the hot oil about 1 minutes each side or until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the eggplant, fry in small batches until all the eggplant is fried. Place the cooked eggplant on layers of paper towel to absorb the excess oil. After each layer of eggplant place another sheet of paper towel. Once you have fried all the eggplant you are ready to assemble the dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9×13 baking dish pour a ladle and a half of sauce.
Put a single layer of eggplant on top of the sauce. It’s OK if some of the eggplant overlaps.
Top with the mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of Parmesan and provolone cheese and a few fresh basil leaves torn over the top.
Ladle on more sauce and repeat the layers. You should have 3 layers of eggplant ending with mozzarella. Bake the eggplant for about 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.
Allow to rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
This recipe makes two trays of eggplant Parmigiana. Do not bake the second tray. Cover the top with plastic wrap and cover that tightly with aluminum foil. Will stay in the freezer up to 6 months. Take out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator before baking for 35-45 minutes covered, or until bubbly. Take the cover off the last 15 minutes.