The art of making eggplant is a far more detailed process than one might originally think. To achieve the perfect delicate balance of soft tender vegetable with light and airy breading topped with just the right amount of crisp crunch takes practice. As an evolved eggplant lover it took my first experience with the properly prepared plum-colored veggie to really appreciate its hearty yet tender flavor. So as an ode to one of my favorite dish starters, here are my tips for foolproof Eggplant Cutlet.
The first step to good eggplant is to take out the “bitter.” Now I have been guilty of just slicing up an eggplant, breading it, and throwing it in the frying pan…big mistake. I promise, it is really worth taking the time to drain your eggplant first. Start by peeling the thick skin, slice length wise (the better way!) and lay out on a wire rack. (Make sure to place your wire rack over a cookie sheet which will catch the liquid that is pressed out!)
Liberally salt your eggplant on both sides and press using whatever assortment of cookie sheets, pots, pans, tea kettles, or my personal favorite, leftover magazines 🙂 you’d like.
Let the eggplant sit out all day, or up to overnight, turning half-way through. When your eggplant is nice and drained, rinse under cool water and pat dry.
Now you’ve come to chef’s choice. There are two ways to bread and cook this eggplant. First, is the traditional way of flour, egg, and breadcrumb.
Then simply toss slices into a hot pan coated with oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Be sure to remove and place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Another option for health nuts is to bake the eggplant at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, turning once.
The second is to only egg and flour your eggplant then to follow the frying steps above. (This is an ideal choice for layered and baked eggplant dishes.) Enjoy these alone, on a wedge with fresh mozzarella and basil, with homemade pesto or in classic eggplant parmesan (easy on the sauce and cheese, top with a sprinkle of oregano and let your eggplant shine!).
Ideal eggplant is really simple as long as you remember the key steps in preparation: peel, salt, press, rinse, and let your final product be the star! It may take extra time, but removing the bitterness of this fussy vegetable beforehand will ensure the appreciation of the savory notes of your dish. And don’t forget to make extra!
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian