Updated: Oct 13
I love fried eggplant.
I remember my grandmother at the stove, frying these little guys batch after batch. Nearby, a plate lined with paper towels absorbs the newly fried aubergine. As soon as my grandmother removed them from the hot oil, she placed them on this plate and immediately sprinkled them with Romano cheese. I remember finding reasons to go into the kitchen, just to steal one more.
This fried eggplant recipe includes a mornay sauce, but they are delicious on their own, or in eggplant parmesan. My grandmother loved to make eggplant sandwiches. She ate them cold between thick slices of good Italian bread, some lettuce, and mayo.
For the Eggplant:
1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 Tbsp salt
3/4 cup flour
4 eggs, whisked
2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup olive oil (for frying), plus more if needed
2 Tbsp butter (for frying), plus more if needed
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (for garnish)
For Cream Sauce:
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
For Spicy Sauce:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup hot sauce
To Fry the Eggplant:
Wash and dry the eggplant and slice 1/4 inch thick. Place sliced eggplant in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of salt and pour enough water to cover the eggplant. Set a heavy pot on top of the eggplant to keep eggplant from floating to the top. Soak eggplant for 30 minutes. Drain eggplant and set slices on paper towels to dry.
In a medium-sized bowl add flour and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl whisk eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper. In yet another bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups panko and 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese.
Pour 3/4 cup of olive oil into a cast-iron skillet. Add the butter. Heat on medium/medium-high until butter is fully melted. Dip each slice of eggplant first into flour, then eggs and cream, then panko and Parmesan.
Fry the eggplant on each side until golden brown (about a minute or two per side). Remove eggplant from pan and drain on a dish lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. Work in batches. If the oil gets low you can add more. If the oil becomes too dark discard it and wipe the skillet out with a paper towel before adding new oil.
In a 3-quart stockpot add the chicken stock and cream. Turn the heat to medium or until the sauce gently bubbles. Simmer in this way until the sauce reduces by half (about 20 minutes). The cream can easily bubble over. Stay close to the stove and adjust the heat if you need to. Take the pan off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
In a small nonstick pan add 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup hot sauce. Heat sauce until butter is fully melted. Remove pan from heat.
Drizzle the perimeter of your dish with cream sauce and then spicy sauce. Place a few pieces of fried eggplant in the center of your dish. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.