La Bonne Aubergine

With the Brunette away, I've been eating out a lot. I think my plan is to gain a couple hundred pounds so that when she comes back, it's like she's got an extra man waiting for her. Won't she be impressed with that?

But today I am apparently obsessed with making my own meals. You might think this would be healthier. I am so dang stuffed I might be sick. I doubt I can keep up this kind of "healthy" living. At any rate, I'm going to have to sleep on the futon; I can't lift this full stomach up the steps.

My craving was for eggplant parmigiana , but there's no real point in making food I can get after a short walk to Generous Joe's, our local greasy spoon. So I continued the day's theme of gustatorial experimentation. I'm going to call this Aubergine Farce Double: a big mess of a dish.

Eggplants are hard to peel. I got a medium-sized eggplant from the organic market, cut off the ends and peeled it.

I greased a cookie sheet with olive oil. I don't know if it was extra virgin. I don't know anything about its personal life, to be honest. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with acronyms in my food life. Acronyms should stay at work where they belong. Keep your EVOO in the office, thank you very much.

I sliced the eggplant lengthwise into 3/4 inch thick slabs. I put these on the cookie sheet and dusted them with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. I'm not going to win any awards for freshness in this creation, you see. It's just so much easier with one person to use powdered stuff. What am I going to do with a whole ear of garlic?

Do you call it an ear?

So, the oven had been preheated to 450° (that's F, it's about 230° in C. It'd be gas mark 8 if we weren't using an electric stove in the United States). I wanted to dry out the eggplant a little bit. I'm not going to fry this thing and I like a crispy parmigiana, so I thought it'd be a good idea to pop these in the oven for about 15 minutes. They came out of there with a slight golden glow.

A suntanned eggplant.

For a nice coating, I wanted to avoid carb-heavy breading. I found a mention on-line of using almond meal in a breading substitute. I mixed 1/4 cup of that with about the same amount of un-hulled sesame seeds that I also found at the organic market. The market bulk shooter listed that at 11 grams. The almond meal was 6. To that I sprinkled in crushed red pepper, oregano, and basil.

The other bowl just has a beaten egg, some soy milk and a handful of diced onion.

I dragged each of those dried eggplant slices through the egg and dry coating. Then I stacked them neatly on each other, separated by slices of mozzarella from an 8 oz chunk that I had sliced. Did I fail to mention the slicing of the mozzarella? Well, here's a picture:

Feel better? Now, the best eggplant parmigiana I ever had was in a restaurant in North Carolina that did something to prop the eggplant above and away from the tomato sauce so that it didn't get soggy and sloppy before I had a chance to enjoy the texture of the eggplant and its coating on its own. So I decided that this baking was going to happen without any tomatoes getting in the neighborhood until plating occurred.

So here's a quick sequence of pictures demonstrating my architectural prowess. The unequal heights serve as a metaphor for our daily travails, all of us able to scale higher on some days and less high on others both due to the pressures of society and the unreliable narrative of our own inner consciousness. Not, you must understand, simply because I cut the eggplant into an odd number of slices. This is art!

The oven temperature was moved by some mysterious force (aided by the intervention of my hand) down to 350°/175°/4. I have to stop here and say that if you're trying to follow along at home, keep in mind that I have no idea what I'm doing. You might want to wait a few days and see if I survive this thing, especially the egg. Do you think the egg cooked properly at this temperature? The other thing you might want to consider is cutting back on the breading. I threw about a third of it away.

I slid what I had into the oven and waited 35 minutes. I think it could have gone another 15 minutes to get nice and brown, but the cheese had melted enough for me and I was getting dang hungry. It's really not good to be hungry when you're about to eat. Someone should really write a book about that: Eat only when you're not hungry. Believe me, you'll eat a lot less.

I think it came out lovely.

All that was left was the plating. That means, for you lay folks, putting it on a plate. I chose one with the image of a train on it. It's a sort of Thomas the Tank Engine for grown ups.

Since I was already experimenting and I didn't feel like making a sauce, I served this eggplant thing draped in a Tequila Salsa I found at the store, along with a dusting of shredded Parmesan cheese. I should have gotten Romano!

You might be asking yourself if I liked it. I believe I already mentioned that I felt so overwhelmingly full that I might have to call in the SeaWorld dolphin transport team to wrap one of those stretchers around me and haul me away with a crane. That's because I ate the whole shebang. In the real world, this was at least two servings, and with a good salad or hope of a dessert, it could easily satisfy three. But I ate the entire thing, which means I consumed an 8oz package of cheese and a whole eggplant all by myself.

So, if I'm sick later, it might be volume at fault as much as undercooking of the egg.

I liked the taste very much, though I wouldn't mistake it for a typical eggplant parmigiana. Instead of crispy, the coating is crunchy and the seeds maintained their individual existences, which is interesting, some might even say fun. The consistency of the eggplant itself was perfect. I think the drying really helped prevent some of the icky slimy you sometimes get from eggplant. And, of course, anything covered in cheese has got a leg up in the world. Were I to do it over again, I'd reduce the cheese by a third (just like the coating) and increase the green and red spices.

That might be all the cooking I do for a while. Can I count the eggplant as my serving of vegetable for the year?

2 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

fiona said...

I'm impressed!
We must be "mind melding" today because I was yakking about food too!

AbbotOfUnreason said...

ha ha! "mind meld" on Star Trek day!