Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Eggplant Parmesan

The last time I had this dish I was still in college, and all was not well. I wondered how it was possible for one vegetable to soak up that much grease. It was like fat sponge. I stayed away from the dish until this week when I was suddenly struck by a need to get this classic right. I eat a lot of eggplant, but most of it is roasted or cooked in liquid, where it can absorb all the goodness it wants. But with some leftover mozzarella and tomato sauce from making pizza the night before, I had everything ready to go.

I figured the reason it tasted so fatty before was not that it was fried, but that it was fried poorly. I found this Gourmet recipe that salts the eggplant to get rid of extra moisture, and then coats it in flour, egg, and Panko. When pan fried over medium-high heat, the crust turns a beautiful golden brown, and perfectly protects the eggplant. Panko, those amazing Japanese bread crumbs, provide a crunchier exterior than regular bread crumbs, and make for a perfect contrast to the succulent eggplant. And I mean that. I've never had eggplant taste like this. There is no need to spring for a meat. This classic dish is perfect without any meat at all.

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