Monday, December 17, 2007

JOHN CHUCKMAN ORIGINAL RECIPE: EGGPLANT PARMESAN

CHUCKMAN'S EGGPLANT PARMESAN
A memorable dish

(Remember, this is a recipe not written down till recently. I use the pinch-and-peek-and-taste method when I cook like this.)


3 or 4 medium eggplants (or their large-sized equivalent) - peeled and cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into moderately thick slices.
You don't have to peel if you like the skin.

Parmesan cheese - grated - crucial that this be pretty decent stuff (no Kraft!).

Mozzarella cheese - grated as for pizza - again quality cheese is important - Tre Stella whole milk is very good. Lots of this.

Flour - sprinkled on plate for coating.

Breadcrumbs - sprinkled on plate for coating.

Eggs - beaten in a bowl for dipping to coat. Add a little milk to thin.

Salt - mixed in with flour - to taste. Be generous.

MY BASIC RED SAUCE:

Use crushed canned tomatoes (two large cans), a generous addition of dry white wine, a couple of anchovies or equivalent anchovy paste, a small can of tomato paste, a finely chopped onion, a sprinkling of Basil, a small sprinkling of red chilies (only enough to hint - sauce is not to be hot), and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Bring to boil and simmer over low heat, covered, for maybe an hour.

Olive oil


Dip each slice of eggplant slice lightly in flour (salted), then in egg, then in breadcrumbs. The slices are then nicely fried till golden and put aside to cool (By the way, these themselves make a delicious snack or side dish).

Oil a large rectangular pyrex casserole-type oven pan.

Dribble a little sauce on bottom of pan. Place cool eggplant (fried) slices over bottom. Dribble sauce over. Sprinkle each type of cheese over (be generous), but suit your taste preferences on proportions. Do another layer, etc., until ingredients used up. Finish top with sauce and then cheese.

Bake in a not-very-high oven (250-300) with aluminum foil on top. Let this go awhile. Check in an hour. You want sauce to slowly thicken a bit and of course cheese to melt and bubble through. You have to judge. You'll need at least an hour of this slow cooking. Finish off in higher oven (say 350) with no cover (note if things got a little too dry, add a touch of sauce first.). Watch this carefully so it doesn't dry up too much.

The key to this cooking technique is to obtain a result of a thickened slush of sauce with savory cooked cheese baked in - this is my preference anyway.

Simpler: You could also just bake the whole thing, once assembled, in a regular fashion. Maybe about 350, uncovered, for not long, say 20 minutes. This will not be as nice. Again watch that it doesn't dry out.


VARIATIONS

Add Greek Kalamata olives to sauce.

Make a "putanesque" sauce by frying up some onion, garlic, and green pepper (all chopped finely). Add some capers, some Greek olives. This makes a very savory sauce for this or pasta - especially Penne Rigate.

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