Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why Didn't I Have this Cookbook 6 Years Ago?

Mirjam recommended this cookbook to me a few weeks ago (along with a couple of others I'll blog about in future posts) and I must say it is awesome! Each recipe in the book was tested and improved dozens of times until reaching the "best recipe." Before each recipe is a complete description of the lengths they took until they reached the final recipe. It's easy to follow, interesting to read (it makes cooking somewhat scientific), it gives tips on the best cooking ware and ingredients, and it's better than any cookbook I have ever used. From beginners to advanced--everyone should own this book, but then again if everyone owned it, I wouldn't be able to shock my tasters with how my cooking became gourmet overnight. So DO NOT buy this cookbook; however, if you change your mind, you can buy it here or at Costco (they're currently $20 which is a great deal). This week's recipe comes right out of The New Best Recipe. I made it for dinner a few nights ago and Noah proclaimed, "I didn't know eggplant could be good--I think that's a first for the world."

Don't be daunted by the length--the descriptions are there to help you get it perfect! Here's the recipe:

Eggplant Parmesan
2 lbs globe eggplant
1 Tbsp kosher salt
8 slices high-quality white sandwich bread (about 8 oz), each slice torn into quarters
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1 Cup)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
6 Tbsp vegetable oil

Tomato Sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 med garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 C coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper

8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 Cups)
1 oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1/2 C)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn for garnish

  1. For the eggplant: toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt in a large bowl until combined; transfer the salted portion to a large colander set over a bowl. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and remaining 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, placing the second batch on top of the first. Let stand until the eggplant releases about 2 Tbsp liquid (30-45 min). Spread the eggplant slices on a triple thickness of paper towels; cover with another triple thickness of paper towels. Press firmly on each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off the excess salt.
  2. While the eggplant is draining, adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on each rack, and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pulse the bread in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 15 -1-second pulses (you should have about 4 cups). Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and stir in the cheese, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper; set aside. Wipe out the bowl (do not wash) and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour and 1 tsp pepper in a large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat the eggs in a second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in the bag with the flour; seal the bag and shake to coat the slices. Remove the slices, shaking off the excess flour; dip in the eggs, letting the excess run off; and coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Set the breaded slices on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
  4. Remove the preheated baking sheets from the oven; add 3 Tbsp oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with the oil. Place half of the breaded eggplant slices on each sheet in a single layer; bake until the eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets after 10 min, and flipping the eggplant slices with a wide spatula after 20 min. Do not turn off the oven!
  5. For the Sauce: While the eggplant bakes, combine the canned crushed tomatoes. Heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in the processed tomatoes and the remaining can of diced tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes (you should have about 4 cups), stirring the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To Assemble: Spread 1 Cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking dish. Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices to fit; distribute 1 more cup of the sauce over the eggplant; sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Layer in the remaining eggplant and dot with 1 more cup of the sauce, leaving the majority of the eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp; sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned (13-15 minutes). Cool 10 minutes, scatter the basil over the top, and serve, passing the remaining tomato sauce separately (or serving it with angel hair pasta).


older singer said...

What happens if your salt isn't kosher for the eggplant parmisian? Can't you just say a blessing and turn the disk kosher?

Factotum said...

I wish, but we're not all Jewish Rabbis are we--kosher salt isn't as fine as regular salt so you can brush it off more easily.