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Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

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Feeds 6 to 10, depending on portion size.
By Dennis W. Viau; adapted from my mother's recipe.

No one is indifferent to eggplant. You either absolutely love it with all the passion of life or you absolutely loathe it as something more disgusting than road kill. I love eggplant.

How to buy eggplant: There are many varieties, but this recipe uses the standard bulbous blackish things sold in the produce section of the supermarket. Smaller eggplants are supposedly less bitter. Ripe eggplants are purplish black. Bright purple eggplants are not ripe. Black might be too ripe. The skin should be smooth, tight, and have a shine. You also want to gently squeeze the flesh, feeling it from the stem end all the way down to the bottom. The flesh underneath the skin should feel firm with a slight spring to it. If you feel any mushy spots do not buy it. The flesh will be brown under the skin and the blemish will permeate the insides. Also, the stem should be green, not brown.

Use eggplant soon after buying it, like within a day or two. Don't keep it for many days in the refrigerator. When eggplant is ripe it turns brown quickly. It is very perishable.

Eggplant, by the way, is a fruit rather than a vegetable.

Ingredients:

2 to 3 eggplants, depending on size (about 3 pounds (1.36k) total weight)
Salt, plenty of it
Olive oil, plenty of it, about ¾ cup (177ml) total, for frying
1½ cups flour (213g) or bread crumbs (100g)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1½ to 2 cups (370 to 527g) marinara sauce (more if you like a lot of sauce)
¼ pound (113g) grated or shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese (more if you like)

Directions:

Slice the eggplant about 3/8 inch (1cm) thick. Sprinkle each slice with plenty of salt and let sit in a glass or ceramic bowl for at least an hour. Rinse the slices well in plenty of cold water to remove all the salt and let drain. Squeeze the slices gently between layers of paper towels to remove additional moisture. (Don't press so hard that you damage the eggplant.)

Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place flour in a plate. Beat eggs and water together in a shallow bowl with about 1/8 teaspoon salt until well blended. Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour (or bread crumbs) and shake off the excess. Dip the slice in the egg and dip again in the flour. Again, shake off any loose flour and fry the slices in the oil until lightly browned. Turn and fry the other side. Add more olive oil as needed to keep the pan wet with oil. Continue until all slices are browned.

Spoon a couple tablespoons of sauce onto the bottom of a casserole dish. Arrange a layer of cooked eggplant in the dish and top with a few tablespoons of sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Continue layering eggplant with sauce and cheese until all the eggplant is used up. (Save the best looking pieces for the top.) Cover with foil or a lid and bake at 350°F (177°C) 30 to 45 minutes until hot. Serve.