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First crack at eggplant parm

I've done the research on here about eggplant parm, however, I had a couple of questions. I know the basics and how to assemble it but...My first one is about the cheese. Can I use fresh mozzarela or should I use a dried mozz like scamorza, will the fresh stuff make the dish too watery? Second question is the breading of the eggplant. I'm used to mom's parm and I saw some people say grill the eggplant which sounded interesting, also others were strictly on a flour train and others the traditional flour/egg/breadcrumbs. Lastly, baking how high how long? Thank you

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  1. i would not use fresh mozzarella, because it might get too watery and ruin the crispy breading on the eggplant. Grilling the eggplant might be ok, but then you are missing the best part, the crunchy breading.

    1. Make sure you salt the eggplant. Key step.

      1. I always use the not-fresh variety of Mozarella because, as pointed out, the fresh can make the whole thing watery.
        Also - re breading...I think I've tried every version, and the very best method is salting slices, letting them drain for a good hour, then dry, dredge in flour, THEN egg, then fry.
        Yes, flour first, then egg. It sounds backwards, but it creates a nice, think batter.

        Bake at 350 for 25 to 45 minutes is the way we go, until the sauce and cheese are bubbly. Do let it rest before cutting

        1 Reply
        1. re: JPomer

          You have my vote :) This is what we always did. Egg, then flour, then fry. Also, I find the best to be thinly sliced eggplant. While the breading (other methods) may add cruch, it also adds a ton of grease, and isn't as authentic IMHO.

        2. Classic eggplant parmesan, in my experience, has always been made with slices breaded with egg, flour and crumbs and fried before layering. I, personally, prefer to brush salted and drained eggplant slices lightly with olive oil and broil before assembling. The bread crumbs do tend to absorb some of the liquid so makes for a more solid presentation (will cut into pieces better without collapsing) and you can add seasonings to the crumbs too - which is something to consider.

          Cheesewise, I think I'd go with regular mozzarella, not the fresh, water packed kind. The flavours in the dish are so strong they'll overpower a delicate cheese.

          1. Cooks Illustrated's recipe is the best I've found--my only change would be to spray the breaded slices with olive oil, then bake them on a pizza screen. It doesn't require layering--more like "leaning"--so the bottom doesn't get soggy.

            I use ricotta, part-skim mozzarella, and parmesan.

            1. You must soak the eggplant slices in cold water for about 4 hours and drain the brown liquid. This makes it taste like you got your eggplant at the local farmer's market!

              Then blot dry dip pieces in egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake in olive oil greased cookie sheet at 450F until crisp on both sides (flip in between) Whole milk mozz, (fresh = tasteless and rubbery once cooked).

              Layer a thicker tomato paste and seasoning with eggplant and cheese....Then top it off with a light marinara (add to smother all eggplant slices, otherwise it's too dry and it won't freeze well if you plan to store it), grated pec. romano and parmesan for a crunchy topping.

              3 Replies
                1. re: pikawicca

                  I've never soaked eggplant in cold water. I just salt them and set them aside for about thirty minutes. Then I rinse them, lay them flat, and press them. Works brilliantly.

                2. re: Nutritious Jane

                  i have hd great luck with baking rather than frying my eggplant. It is healthier, makes much less of a mess and I really cant tell the difference, taste wise

                3. I like the simple way. I just peel the eggplant, slice about 1/2" thick, dip in seasoned flour-egg-seasoned breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet in freezer to let coating set (about 15 minutes, or freeze for future use in plastic bags after frozen on sheet).

                  Spray each piece with cooking spray on both sides and bake at 425F for 20-25 mins until medium brown and crispy. I then layer the crunchy eggplant (sauce, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese) making sure not to get sauce over all of the eggplant so that some parts stay crispy.

                  This makes a tower of eggplant and is very impressive looking, in addition to being great tasting! I love making a big batch and freezing it. I just whip it out of the freezer when I need it, bake and enjoy.

                  I wouldn't use real mozz. Too liquidy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Main Line Tracey

                    Me too, never salt and drain, and never have my eggplant tasted bitter.

                    Also, do the flour, egg, crumbs spray and bake. I don't even do the freezer setting.

                    Then just do the layering.

                  2. I agree about salting the eggplant first. Let it drain for an hour or so and then blot as dry as possible. Brush with a bit of olive oil,flour,egg,then panco crumbs. I then let this sit in frig or on counter for at least 1 hour and the crumbs really set, won't fall off and get nice and crispy. I then brown in a bit of olive oil and finish baking in oven. I do NOT put sauce on in oven. When they are almost done, put on reg. moz. and finish in oven until cheese is melted. I put my warm sauce on table when I serve this and let everyone put on as much sauce as they like. I don't get baking with sauce, since I've worked so hard to get a nice crunchy egg plant, why put sauce on and get it soggy? Hope this is a little helpful and happy eating!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jackie de

                      That's why i do the leaning thing, instead of stacking! But I like the idea of serving the sauce on the side, or right at the end. Thanks!

                    2. Thank you everyone for all the suggestions. I will be making this dish next Saturday for a family party so I will report back on the result.