Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana alla Normanno

What is a “signature dish”? I’m told that mine is my Eggplant Parmigiana. As in “what do you mean you’re not making it for your Christmas Eve party this year….it’s your signature dish, you jerk”!!

As defined: A signature dish is a recipe that identifies an individual chef. Ideally it should be unique and allow an informed gastronome to name the chef in a blind tasting. It can be thought of as the culinary equivalent of an artist finding their own style, or an author finding their own voice. In practice a chef's signature dish often changes with time or they may claim several signature dishes.

I’m not sure if my wine-guzzling friends qualify as “informed gastronomes” as much as perhaps “buzzed friends with munchies”...and referring to myself as a chef would be akin to calling myself a captain while on a canoe trip. I do like the part about changing over time…my recipes certainly do. What I once prepared as a traditional type recipe, loaded with breaded eggplant dripping in the oil it was fried in,  was altered by me to become un-fried and therefor healthier (that is to say, less likely to make me begin to resemble a bowling pin). The trick to this dish came to me one day eating leftovers, when of course one tends to point out "tomato dishes always tastes better the second day". So....why not incorporate this into the recipe itself, I pondered? I hope you enjoy my latest take on this quest.

3 eggplant, peeled, sliced lengthwise 1/3 inch thick
¼ lb fresh mozzarella
¼ lb. shredded supermarket mozzarella
1 packed cup basil leaves (I slummed and used my frozen crushed ones from the garden)
½ cup grated parmesan (Locatelli brand, of course)
tomato sauce (for this dish, simplicity: I sauté 2 finely chopped onions & a head of garlic in some olive oil, add 1 cup red wine, 2 cans puree, 2 cans crushed, a bunch of oregano from my garden…or yours. Simmer an hour.)

15 easy steps to prepare:
1. oiled baking pan with eggplant
2. broil eggplant until brown
3. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with breadcrumb
4. Cover with a layer of eggplant
5. Cover with tomato sauce
6. Cover with shredded mozzarella
7. Scatter with basil leaves
8. Cover with Parmesan
9. Cover with another layer of eggplant
10. Top with tomato sauce
11. Top with fresh mozzarella slices & Sicilian oregano (more on this another day)
12. Bake at 350 for an hour, covered
13. Let sit in the oven until cool
14. Put in refrigerator for a day….or more
15. Reheat at 350 for an hour, covered…..and feast!

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