Parmigiana (Eggplant parmesan)

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PRESENTATION

Parmigiana (Eggplant parmesan)

Just say its name and there's a standing ovation at the table. It's the queen of single courses, the consolation for hurt feelings: eggplant Parmigiana. A recipe shared and disputed as to origins from north to south: Emilia Romagna, Campania (Parmigiana is mulignane) and Sicily (Parmiciana or Patrociane) with some variations in ingredients and ways to compose it, but all absolutely fabulous! Do you ever wonder why it's called that? The name "Parmigiana" comes from the Sicilian "Parmiciana", which in dialect means the stacked wood slats in blinds: think about how the slices of eggplant are arranged in the pan and you will see the similarities. Few ingredients, lots of flavor for a dish that is a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine: tomato, eggplant, basil and cheese... a mix that also goes perfectly with pasta as in the recipe for lumaconi alla parmigiana (snails parmigiana). But now make a succulent eggplant parmigiana with us!

 

INGREDIENTS
Black eggplants 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
Tomato puree 6 cups (1.4 l)
Fior di latte mozzarella cheese 1.1 lbs (500 g)
Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese 1 ⅓ cup (150 g)
Yellow onions 1
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Black pepper to taste
Basil - several leaves
Fine salt to taste
Peanut seed oil to taste - for frying the eggplant
Coarse salt 1 ¼ oz (35 g) - for purging the eggplant
Preparation

How to prepare Parmigiana (Eggplant parmesan)

To prepare the eggplant parmigiana, start by washing and drying the eggplant 1. Then with a knife remove the stem 2 and slice the eggplant lengthwise with a vegetable slicer, or alternatively with a knife, to obtain slices about 1/8' (4-5 mm) thick 3.

 

As you place the slices inside a colander, sprinkle them with a very small amount of coarse salt between the layers, well distributed (you can also use a little fine salt); continue this way until you finish it all 4. On top of the eggplants, place a plate with a weight on it to let the eggplants purge the excess water and slightly bitter taste, the enemy of fried food. Leave it like this for at least 1 hour. Remember to rinse the slices well under running water, one by one if necessary, to remove the salt and pat them dry before use. In the meantime, slice and cut the fiordilatte cheese into strips, after which you will have very small cubes. If you don't have another colander, you can place them on a very clean cloth 5. In the meantime, make the sauce. In a large saucepan pour a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add the chopped onion, stir often so as not to burn it and let it brown for a couple of minutes 6.

 

Then add the tomato puree 7 and a little water, the salt 8  and let it simmer for 45 minutes. When finished cooking do not forget to add the basil leaves by hand 9.

 

Heat plenty of vegetable oil and in the meantime rinse the portion of eggplant that you are going to fry 10 and dry it with oil blotting paper: always proceed a little at a time so they do not darken 11. Fry a few slices at a time 12 in boiling oil at 340° F (170° C). 

 

After cooking 2-3 minutes, drain on absorbent paper 13; do the same with all the others. At this point you should have everything you need, so move on to putting it together. Cover the bottom of an 8 x 12" (20x30cm) baking dish with a little sauce 14, then make the first layer by arranging the eggplant slices horizontally 15.

 

Grate some black pepper, sprinkle with parmesan cheese 16 and pour some cubes of fiordilatte cheese, distributing them evenly 17. And finally pour on a little more sauce, just enough to color the inside 18.

 

Repeat the same procedure this time by arranging the eggplant slices on top 19; continue this way to make the layers by inverting the direction of the slices each time 20. Between layers, remember to press gently with the palms of your hands in order to compact them. On the last layer pour the remaining tomato puree 21

 

the cubes of fiordilatte and parmesan cheese 22. Now it's time to bake your eggplant parmigiana in a hot oven at 400° F (200° C) for 40 minutes 23. Once ready, let it cool a few minutes before serving 24.

 

Storage

Store the eggplant parmigiana in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 days. It can be frozen cooked, perhaps already divided into portions, and thawed in the fridge if necessary before heating.

 

Tips

Choosing the eggplant is a real ritual. There are all sorts, but the perfect ones for this recipe are large, oval, dark purple and shiny ones that must be firm to the touch - neither too hard nor too soft. But the long Neapolitan eggplants are good too. As for variations: some dip the eggplants in flour or eggs, or both. For the choice of cheeses, you can opt for some caciocavallo cheese instead, as is done in Sicily or Calabria. Some also make a delicious addition, like sliced boiled eggs.

For those on a diet at first glance there seems to be no hope, yet there is an alternative: grilled eggplant parmigiana, tasty and certainly lighter.