The Dish: Oven-Fried Eggplant Parmesan
Oct 04, 2012 11:29PM ● Published by Anonymous
How did your culinary career begin?
I was basically raised in the kitchen of Russo's Italian Restaurant in Wildwood, New Jersey. Russo's was in our family for 86 years until it closed in 2008. There I discovered the foodie in me, and although I tried my hand at some non-cooking jobs, I never stopped cooking and never stopped creating.
Describe the culinary influence present in your dishes.
Love is always the first ingredient, and Italian is typically at the base of everything I cook. My mother was a big influence (although she would disagree). Also my cousin, Dee, who died of cancer in her early 60s was my inspiration for taking cooking seriously. Dee fed the masses and cooking was how she best expressed her love for her family and friends.
How did you come to work at this restaurant?
A friend of mine recommended me for a position at Piazza and the rest, as they say, is history.
How often do you add new dishes to the menu?
Weekly. The menu changes all the time. We keep the favorites and change up everything else.
What is your favorite food?
What kitchen tool or gadget could you not cook without?
I use a microplane all the time.
Do you watch any food TV?
Ask my husband...
What's your favorite show?
"Chopped" on the Food Network.
What's your favorite local ingredient?
I love those beautiful tomatoes you can buy at the Easton Farmers ́ Market. All shapes, sizes, and colors!
What's more important to you: Local or organic? (Or neither?)
Local. I trust the local farms to provide quality products that stack up against the best meats and produce from other parts of the country.
What do you like most about your job?
I love cooking and I love making people happy. Cooking allows me to be creative and it allows me to sing to myself. I'm not sure Emily (the owner) and my co-workers say my singing is what they like most about their jobs.
Are there any special cooking techniques/ingredients/utensils/cookware used for this dish?
I like to use parchment paper to cook the eggplant on, it makes cleaning easier.
Is there a particular wine/drink that goes well with this dish?
A nice Chianti.
Piazza's Oven-Fried Eggplant Parmesan
Serves four to six
- • 3 pounds Italian Eggplant, sliced lengthwise, 1/2 inch thick
- • 3 cups of flour, well seasoned with salt and pepper
- • 3 large eggs, beaten
- • 3/4 cup whole milk
- • 4 cups Piazza's Tomato Basil Sauce or any basica marinara
- • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- • Canola or peanut oil
- • 2-3 baking sheets
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk the milk into the eggs and set into a shallow pan, about 8x8. Put the flour into another shallow 8x8 pan.
Using a pastry brush or a spray bottle, lightly coat a baking sheet with the oil. You can oil cut sheets of parchment paper to make clean up a little easier, if you have some handy.
Dunk a slice of eggplant into the egg wash and lift it out again using a fork, letting the egg drip back into the pan. Drop the eggplant slice into the flour mixture and turn to coat well. Using another fork, move the eggplant slice to the oiled baking sheet. Repeat until the baking sheet has one full layer of eggplant slices. Spray or brush the eggplant slices with more oil, just enough to get them to brown in the oven.
Bake each sheet of eggplant for about 20 to 30 minutes in the oven until it's golden-brown and creamy inside. Repeat the above steps until all the eggplant is baked.
Coat the bottom of a 9x13 ceramic or glass baking dish with about 1⁄4 inch of tomato sauce. Begin layering eggplant in the dish so that it overlaps. After about two layers of eggplant, drizzle about 1⁄2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the eggplant. Sprinkle the sauce with a light layer of mozzarella. Finish layering the eggplant in the baking dish and top with the remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella.
At this point, the eggplant can be held in the refrigerator for a couple of days before baking. When you're ready to finish the eggplant parmesan, place the baking dish in a 350 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until it's bubbling through and the mozzarella has melted.