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What mozzarella do you use for Eggplant Parmigiana?

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Extelleron Sep 13, 2012 06:04 PM

I'm planning on making Eggplant Parmigiana this weekend - usually I've used dry mozzarella (Polly-O) but I'm thinking of trying either fresh mozzarella or perhaps Mozzarella di Bufala. I imagine that Bufala mozzarella would have been used traditionally in the recipe in Italy but is it optimal? Although I'm imagining it would have to be dried before using or the dish would get very wet. What do you guys think? I make the Eggplant Parmigiana with many thin layers like lasagna.

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  1. todao RE: Extelleron Sep 13, 2012 06:20 PM

    IMO, Mozzarella di Bufala would be perfect, but not by itself. I'd include a mixture of Fontina, Mozzarella di Bufala, Fontina, and Parmigiano and perhaps even some Provolone. I'd also make sure the Mozzarella di Bufala was well dried before adding it to the dish.
    First cheese layer Provolone, second Parmigiano, Third Fontina, final top layer Mozzarella.
    Eggplant Parmigiana is almost a staple in our house.

    1. c
      cheesemaestro RE: Extelleron Sep 13, 2012 06:33 PM

      It's interesting that many people in the US dispense with the title ingredient: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Without it, you're not making a Parmigiana! Indeed, some recipes from Italy for this dish include no cheese other than Parmigiano-Reggiano, while others combine it with another cheese, usually fior di latte (cow's milk mozzarella). Mozarella di Bufala is not traditional. I recall a recommendation from an Italian source to avoid the buffalo milk cheese for the reason that it gives off too much liquid during cooking. If it were me, I'd try it with a combination of fresh (cow's) mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I also like todao's idea of adding in another stretched curd cheese, like Provolone, or perhaps better yet, Caciocavallo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheesemaestro
        todao RE: cheesemaestro Sep 13, 2012 06:44 PM

        Given that lasagna, as I believe most of us know it, is credited to southern Italy as the point of its origination I wholeheartedly agree with the Caciocavallo recommendation but I think I'd use it in place of and not wth the Mozzarella di Bufala. As for Parmigiano-Reggiano, I thought that went without saying because we use the terms "Parmigiano-Reggiano" and "Parmigiano" in our kitchen as meaning "Parmigiano-Reggiano". I forgot that not everyone does. Thanks cheesemaestro, I'll try to be more careful about that.

      2. e
        Extelleron RE: Extelleron Sep 13, 2012 07:02 PM

        Of course I would use Parmigiano grated on top of the mozzarella in each layer :) But cheesemaestro I have read different things about the origins of the name "Parmigiana" and whether it has anything to do with the use of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the dish..I'm not sure if anybody knows the exact origins of the name.

        Hmm, yeah I read conflicting things about using Bufala in cooking which is why I was unsure here. For example, I like pizza with the Bufala cheese because of the flavor. But I know that even despite the association of Mozzarella di Bufala with the Napoli area, some traditional places like Da Michele don't use Bufala cheese for the reason that you give about liquid content.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Extelleron
          todao RE: Extelleron Sep 13, 2012 09:03 PM

          Some years ago I listened to Mario Batali describe Parmigiano-Reggiano and compare it point for point with "Parmigiano". His expert advice hit home with me and I've avoided (but have used others in a pinch) using anything but Parmigiano-Reggiano.

        2. e
          Extelleron RE: Extelleron Sep 14, 2012 05:13 AM

          Well I don't know about others, but when I say "Parmigiano" I mean "Parmigiano-Reggiano"..I thought this was standard. Of course in the U.S. we have "Parmesan" which always means a domestic cheese that is nothing close to Parmigiano-Reggiano and I would not use unless that's all I have.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Extelleron
            mbfant RE: Extelleron Sep 14, 2012 09:30 PM

            There must have been something else to what Batali was saying because it doesn't make sense. "Parmesan" is an ambiguous term (its meaning was discussed in another thread). In Europe it is the English translation of parmigiano, but in the US it can be applied to anything similar to parmigiano. Parmigiano is parmigiano-reggiano. It is possible to select your cheese from cheese makers nearer Parma or nearer Reggio (the tracebility of parmigiano-reggiano is down to the cow), but the designation covers both.

            As for the name of melanzane alla parmigiana, which is a Neapolitan dish in (remote) origin, it actually doesn't come from the parmigiano. Alla parmigiana means vegetables cooked in layers, and may derive from perceived resemblance to a type of window shade.

          2. grampart RE: Extelleron Sep 14, 2012 05:25 AM

            I make it a few times a year and use Polly-O (part skim) and always have excellent results. Fresh mozz always presents a moisture problem.

            1 Reply
            1. re: grampart
              coll RE: grampart Sep 14, 2012 06:01 PM

              Sometimes in the summer I will make it with fresh mozz because it seems lighter. Plus I often have it on hand for tomato salad. But it only comes out nicely if you cook it longer and/or higher than you normally would, otherwise it doesn't really melt.

            2. ElsieB RE: Extelleron Sep 14, 2012 05:27 AM

              Scamorza from my local cheese shop. I think it melts better.

              1. l
                LJS RE: Extelleron Sep 14, 2012 03:41 PM

                The Accademia Italiana della Cucina cookbook, a compendium of regional Italian cooking entitled originally,La Cucina del Bel Paese and over 900 pages in length has 3 recipes for parmigiana di melanzane or Eggplant Parmigiana.

                Two call for grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the 3rd calls for grated caciocavallo (similar,but cows milk cheese used a lot in Sicily).

                They all call for additional cheeses to be used as a layering cheese as well as the parmigiani/caciocavallo which is used both for the batter prior to sauteeing the eggplant and for the topping.

                The first (Campania/Neapolitan) uses fior di latte-cow's milk cheese (or in a pinch, mozzarella), the second (Apullian/Puglian), cubed mozzarella which implies a drier/older version than the fresh that is served in, for example a Caprese salad, and the third (Sicilian), tuma, a soft tangy ewes-milk cheese.

                I bore you with all these details only to illustrate that there is no one RIGHT way to do this or many other Italian dishes.

                In fact,if you were to sit down to a family dinner at our house on a Sunday afternoon in Italy, you would have seen how two or three relatives from the SAME region, but different towns, sometimes mere miles apart, could defend to the point of name-calling and dish breaking THEIR version of the dish that I was serving. I don't remember anybody ever refusing to eat the 'offending' variant food item, though...funny that!

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