One of my earliest cooking experiences was with my Mom and my big sister, Carrie, making Mom’s famous Eggplant Parmesan. By today’s standards, my sister and I were way too young (6 and 9 years old) to be using knives and frying in hot oil, but parents got away with a lot more back then. Actually, Carrie and I laugh about how the hot oil splatter scars on our arms remind us of this wonderful recipe.
To make the Eggplant Parmesan, my Mom sat us in an assembly line at the kitchen table. Each in pretty aprons dotted with oil splatter stains. We sliced up the eggplant into thin slices, because Mom always said the secret was in cutting the eggplant thinly. Next step… one of us in front of a large bowl of the egg mixture and the other in front of a large pile of breadcrumbs and mom ready to fry the breaded eggplant slices as we passed them over to her. We anxiously awaited the fried goodness to hit the paper towels so we could dip them in her homemade sauce and devour. Most times we would only get one slice, but try to sneak another before Mom would run us out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon…like I said before, parents got away with a lot more back then.
A cute but dirty apron, a few harmless hot oil scars and twenty five years later this is still the best Eggplant Parmesan I have ever eaten. I think my sister, Carrie, would agree.
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 (28-oz.) cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) garlic & basil flavored paste
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
Fresh basil finely chopped
Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
In a stockpot, coat bottom with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. First add the thinly sliced onion and cook for a couple of minutes, then add crushed garlic and cook for an additional couple of minutes until softened. Pour both cans of crushed tomatoes, paste, tomato sauce, water, and merlot into the pot. Add basil, salt, pepper, and cheese to taste. Heat over medium heat to a boil and then reduce to low heat. Heat the sauce while continuing on to the eggplant.
3 medium eggplants
Fresh Mozzarella cheese ball
(16-oz.) Ricotta cheese
Large casserole dish
Heat oven to 350º F. Peel eggplants and thinly slice to about a 1/8 of an inch. Make a mixture of eggs and milk in a medium bowl. I start with 4 eggs and about 1oz of milk and continually make more as it gets low. Coat the eggplant slices in the egg mixture and then cover each side with breadcrumbs. Fill ¼ inch of vegetable oil in sauté pan and heat over medium to high heat. The bigger the sauté pan the faster the process of frying the eggplant will go. Fill sauté pan with the eggplant and fry each side until golden brown. Drain the grease from the eggplant on paper towels. You’ll need to change out the oil a couple of times in order to fry all of the eggplant. In a medium size bowl, mix 2 eggs with the container of ricotta cheese. In another bowl, grate mozzarella cheese.
In your favorite large casserole dish, coat a very thin layer of sauce in the bottom. Start to layer the eggplant, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, and then sauce again. Repeat this process until you fill the casserole dish. I like to put an extra layer of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Enjoy!