Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parma for Eggplant Parmigiana! (No Cheese)

Thinking about a friend who the other day decided to make eggplant parmigiana, I had to go to my "bible" cookbook Emiliana and Romagnola wanting to set it straight once and for all the difference between these dishes. 
First off, the ultra famous eggplant parmigiana served in most restaurants in the US and in cookbooks as well, is actually what is called "Parmigiana di melanzane" vs what is made in Emilia Romagna called, "Melanzane alla parmigiana." The former is from Campania (Naples province) and uses heavy amounts of mozzarella. 
Another myth to be exposed is the one when preparing eggplant, was to cover the raw slices with salt. This was supposed to force the vegetable to purge the bitter water contained within. Maybe centuries ago this plant was very bitter but today the varieties we have are far from bitter and the salting actually ruins the delicate flavor of the eggplant and is harmful so, NEVER, ever salt eggplant before use.  :-)

My favorite recipe for Melanzane all parmigiana (Emiliana recipe) is the following:
2 medium eggplant
50 gram prosciutto crudo - thick slice about 1/4 inch
1 small onion
300 gr peeled tomatoes 
50 gram butter
olive oil
salt pepper
Wash and dry the eggplant, but the ends off and slice into rounds.
The slices should be about 4-5 mm in thickness.
Flour them well and fry in olive oil, dry on oil absorbing paper.
In a casserole dish, melt the butter (may substitute olive oil here is desired) together with the super finely SLICED onion. When the onion is nice and transparent, add the prosciutto cut into little cubes. Sautee for two minutes and add the tomatoes.
Salt and pepper to taste and then add the eggplant slices.
Cook over a slow flame, covered for approximately fifteen minutes.

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