Wednesday, June 12 2024

Today I am telling you about a southern dish that everyone loves: the perfect Apulian eggplant parmigiana.

It is not known exactly where this dish originated; some say in Sicily and then in Campania, but it is very popular and made all over the South.


The original “Bari-style” version involves a filling of provolone, mozzarella and mortadella.

The essential element for the success of this dish is absolutely the quality of the raw materials.

1) The eggplants recommended for this dish are the long, purple ones with a slightly bitter flavor. Ideally, to eliminate the bitterness slightly, salt the sliced eggplant with a heavy weight on top, such as a press, so that they release some liquid and do not absorb too much oil during frying.

2) Cut the eggplant lengthwise only, no more than 0.2 inch thick. Never make them round. I have to say that in the South eggplants are dipped in flour and then in egg, so the original recipe is like that, but I honestly prefer them without egg and flour, just fried. Your choice.

3) To prevent water from wetting the parmigiana during cooking, it is best to salt it first. Once sliced, stack them, sprinkle them with coarse salt and let them rest for a little more than an hour with a heavy weight on top. Of course, before frying them, rinse and dry them a bit. This procedure will also help to slightly remove the bitterness of the oblong eggplants.

4) The mozzarella should also be sliced and allowed to drain for at least an hour.

5) The sauce should also be made well, with plenty of basil, and above all it should not be too liquid, so cook it until you see it bubbling to the surface. My grandmother used to say that the sauce is ready when it starts “pippin'”…. Ahhh the grandmothers!

6) As for frying, some people also use extra virgin olive oil, but I sincerely advise against it because the eggplant absorbs a lot of oil during cooking and would give it an intense flavor, so I recommend a good peanut oil. I will say right away that in Puglia they use to fry the eggplant by first dipping it in flour and then in egg, but I definitely prefer without, because in my family we always made it without eggs, as the batter frying of parmigiana was too heavy. So if you want to make it the traditional way, bread it any way you like. This is how I describe it to you.

7) Another very important thing is to absolutely enjoy the parmigiana not hot, but warm or even cold. I usually prepare it the night before.

8) If you see that at the end of cooking the parmigiana releases liquid, leave it in the oven off for 30 minutes.

And after these tips, find the recipe below.

 

 

SERVINGS:4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. of long eggplants
  • 10 oz of mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Pecorino cheese, grated
  • salt to taste
  • 5 basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cups of oil for frying (i use peanut oil)
  • 3 oz of mortadella or cooked ham

 

METHOD

After salting rinse and dry the eggplants , fry them in plenty of peanut oil.

Place the fried eggplant on paper towels to remove excess oil.

After preparing a basil sauce with tomato sauce evo oil basil onion and salt, start with a ladle to pour some of the sauce.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese and place the eggplants next to each other without overlapping them.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese again.

Add sliced mozzarella, cooked ham and more eggplant.
Add the sauce and start placing the same things again (parmesan, mozzarella, cooked ham and eggplant until you finish on the surface with sauce and parmesan.

Bake in preheated oven at 400 F for 40 mn .

Let cool before serving the parmigiana .

 

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