Since I started this blog I have yet to cook one of my tasty Italian feasts that many of my readers are so used to me making. Our house guest requested Italian for dinner tonight and I took the opportunity to make my tasty eggplant parmigiano and chicken cutlets. It's not the ideal weeknight meal as it takes some time, but I was quite impressed that I pulled it off in 90 minutes. The eggplant is one of the first recipes I learned in the cooking class I took while I studied in Florence. Check out the recipe below:
2 large eggplants - sliced lengthwise (you can leave the skin on or peel it, I've done it both ways)
fresh mozzarella - cut into strips
grated parmigiano reggiano
basic tomato sauce (recipe below)
salt & pepper
1. Put a layer of paper towels on large cookie sheet or cutting board. Place the eggplant slices on the the paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to a hour. This will bring the eggplants bitter juices out. Once the time has passed, take paper towels and blot up the liquid. You can also gently wring out the eggplant slices over the sink, they are durable enough to handle this. I skipped this step tonight, but find that the eggplant is that much better when I am able to take the time to do this and I highly recommend it.
2. Fill a large saute pan half way with vegetable oil. It seems like alot of oil but very little of it is absorbed by the eggplant. Heat the oil over medium high heat.
3. Once the eggplant is dry and the oil is heated place slices of eggplant into the oil, make sure they don't overlap. Fry all of the eggplant slices to a very light golden brown, remove from oil to drain on paper towels.
4. Lightly oil an 8x8 casserole dish. Cover the bottom of the pan with one layer of eggplant slices. Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of parmigianao and 4-5 strips of mozzarella. Repeat the layering until all the eggplant is gone. Putting extra cheese on the top layer.
5. Put the dish in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Until heated through and bubbly.
NOTE: This is not an eggplant parm that you can cut a neat little square and serve all pretty. It's easiest to just serve with a spoon and while not pretty, it is so fabulously tasty that's all that really matters!
Simple Tomato Sauce
2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsps fresh basil - hand torn
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup red wine
2 pinches of sugar
salt & pepper
1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan. Add chopped onions to the heated pan. Saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute until the onions become translucent, being careful not to let the garlic brown, approx 5 more minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Let cook over medium heat until begins to bubble. Add oregano and basil. Simmer over medium stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add red wine and simmer for 5 more minutes.
3. Taste sauce, add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 more minutes and then add sugar, to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
4. Continue to simmer sauce over low heat until ready to use and/or eat.
4 boneless chicken breasts thinly pounded out
1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg - beaten
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Dredge the chicken breast through flour, then dip in egg and then dredge in bread crumbs. Put coated cutlets on a plate and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Place two cutlets into the heated oil and cook until golden brown on each side and cooked through, approx 5 minutes per side.
3. Remove from pan to a plate and cook remaining two cutlets.
4. Serve. I like chicken cutlets topped with a little bit of sauce and a sprinkling of parmigiano.
While I was taking a picture of my plate there was not a word spoken by my sis or our guest. That's always the true sign of a great meal, silence and full mouths. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.