Monday, 14 September 2009

Melanzane (aubergine) alla Parmigiana

Melanzane (Aubergine) alla parmigiana (Sicilia-Campania)

Another well known classic favourite. Apart from the parmigiano as a topping, you can also use different type of cheese to insert in the middle, such as firm sliced mozzarella, provola or fontina. Also as a short cut you can use a good quality readymade pasta sauce, however don't shortcut on preparation of the aubergine in order to maximize the flavour and the texture. For the amount stated below it should feed about 6 "average" people served with some garden salad and fresh baked bread, however in our household we are easily capable of gobbling it all down in one go between the 3 of us! When you are making a sauce, prepare a generous amount, if there will be an extra left, it will always be handy for another day for some other recipes!

1kg-1,2kg Aubergine, sliced in circles slightly less than 1cm thickness
oil for frying
2 onions
2 large cloves of garlic
2 carrot
2 bayleaves
olive oil
1 tsp. herb mix provençal
salt, pepper
1-1,5 lt. passata (or 1/2-1/2 of tomato puree & diced tomatoes from tin)
about 100g parmigiano reggiano or grana padano, freshly grated
some bread crumbs

Soak the aubergine slices in a cold, salted water in a large bowl, let them rest for at least 30min.
Rinse the aubergine slices under running water in a sieve, then pat dry.
Deep fry the slices in hot oil (about 175°C), a little at a time so the temperature will stay high, cook each slices until they are golden brown. Let them dry on an absorbent paper.
Finely chop the onions, garlic and carrots (or smash them together in a food processor), sautè them in sufficient amount of olive oil in a large skillet.
Season the mixture with salt and pepper as needed.
When they are completely soft, add the herbs and tomatoes, bring it to boil and let it simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, or the sauce somewhat thickens.
Generously coat the bottom of a baking dish (about 30x40cm) with the tomato sauce.
Arrange a layer of aubergine slices closely lined together to cover the bottom.
Add another thin layer of tomato sauce over the aubergine slices.
sprinkle generously and evenly a mixture of bread crumbs and cheese on the surface.
Repeat the procedure until you run out of the aubergine (usually about 3 layers), ending with a layer of tomato sauce. (at this point you should have enough bread crumbs/grated cheese left to make one more layer)
Cover the dish with an aluminum foil, secure the edges well if the oven is ventilated, so the foil will not fly open.
Bake for 20 minutes at 175°C.
Take out the tray from the oven, turn up the temperature to 200°C, take off the foil and arrange the final top layer of bread crumbs and grated cheese over the surface.
Put the tray back uncovered, continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the topping is golden grown.

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