Thursday, October 11, 2012

Parmigiana Di Melanzane: The Perfect Recipe.


Preparation time: 30-40 minutes for the preparation (depending on the size of the frying pan),  30 minutes to cook in the oven
Details: approx. €15 to serve 6 people

It's true, we simply can't live without aubergines and that's why we are here to present a Must for any wanna-be Italian cook: the glorious, magnificent Parmigiana Di Melanzane (friends call it also "Parmigiana")! 

For those unlucky people who have never heard of it, it's a sort of lasagna with fried aubergines (aka eggplants) instead of pasta. More or less. To preserve the sacredness of this recipe, it is necessary to point out the 4 biggest mistakes people do when pretending to make a Parmigiana: 
  1. The worst of all: using ragù or bolognese sauce instead of simple tomato passata - garlic - basil sauce. If you're adding meat in the sauce you're making greek moussaka. Parmigiana is Italian!
  2. Adding grated mozzarella instead of fresh mozzarella or real Italian provola.
  3. Adding inappropriate ingredients like: cinnamon (yes, I found it in a Parmigiana once), peppers, corguettes, etc.
  4. Just don't trust Jamie when it comes to Italian Recipes (look here to see all his heresies about the Parmigiana)
So, please follow this post carefully: we are absolutely intransigent about this recipe, which is extremely simple and does not require any rare ingredient. After all, we're talking about a status symbol of every Italian living abroad.

What you need is:
  • 4 big aubergines (if you are buying Tesco/Fresh/Spar/Superquinn standardized aubergines, then it's 6-7 aubergines - they sell ridiculously small veggies!). More or less, 2 kg aubergines should be ok.
  • 300 gr mozzarella or Italian provola
  • 700 gr pomodori pelati 
  • 200 gr grated parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • many leaves of basil
  • extra-virgin oil for the tomatoes sauce and frying oil, 2 tbsp salt

Take the aubergines and cut them into long thin slices. Do not skin the aubergine, as most of their flavor is in the skin itself. As aubergines can have a quite bitter taste (especially those imported in Ireland),  sink them in a well-salted cold water for one hour to remove the bitterness. Then drain the aubergines, pressing them lightly between the hands with a kitchen cloth.


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While the aubergines are getting sweeter, you can start preparing the tomato sauce, chopping the mozzarella in small pieces or chopping the Provola, if you are using that - today we have used both provola and mozzarella to empty the fridge! For the tomato sauce, just fry 2 pieces of garlic in a pan with some extra-virgin olive oil. When garlic gets brownish add the pomodori pelati (tomatoes "pelati") and add salt and pepper. Let it cook over a low fire for 20 minutes, adding water if the sauce is draining too much.


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You can now start frying the slices, lowering them in a saucepan containing 3 cm of frying oil at the right temperature (use the old method to check if the oil is ready: just drop few bread crumbs or a very small piece of dough into the oil. If it takes 60 seconds to brown, then the oil is at 365). The frying part is the most boring one: it might take from 30 minutes up to 1 hour to fry all the slices, depending on the size of the saucepan. Fry them until they get a deep golden colour, witout burning them. Remember that aubergine slices should not be floured or dipped in whisked eggs before being fried. This might result in a quite fat and heavy recipe, tasting worse and - above all - you would violate tradition.




When the frying is over, let the aubergine slices drain on paper towel sheets and then start building our beloved Parmigiana! How? It's easy: just put some tomatoe sauce at the very bottom of the tray, and then start assembling the Parmigiana by creating 4-5 layers of aubergines, each of which must covered with some tomatoe sauce, grated parmesan (that blends all the ingredients), chopped mozzarella/provola, some basil leaves and a bit of salt.


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Complete the assembly by creating the last layer and covering it with the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella and/or grated parmesan and basil leaves. Sprinkle the last layer with some extra-virgin olive oil.


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Preheat the oven at 200° and bake for 30/35 minutes until the Parmigiana gets like this:




Pure Joy.

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A special thanks to Cò for the atmosphere and hospitality, and to the Dolphin's for their creative food solutions!

Recipe on the left is called "Laura's Fagiolini": put frozen grean beans directly in a saucepan with extra-virgin olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Simmer all together and when the beans get a beatiful, darker colour, add some passata (tomato sauce) and simmer over a low flame for about 10 minutes.

Recipe on the right is Luigi's "Tripudio Di Mortadella": handmade artistic mortadella waves, baguette slices.




3 comments:

  1. Toscana restaurant is one of popular restaurants in Dublin. You can consider including that also, since they serve organic food.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Andy,

    Will definitely try it and make a review :-)

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi
    Mad Foodies
    Thanks for your response, you can go for this www.toscanarestaurant.ie since this is the targeted destination.

    Thanks and warm regards
    Andy Steven

    ReplyDelete