Alright… I said I’d spill the beans a little more about my big blogging news, and I’m here to do just that! Plus give you a superb recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods, the lovely Eggplant Parm(esan). More on that later. For now, my news!
I AM STARTING A BRAND-NEW FOOD BLOG!!!! It will be live on Tuesday, and I am so, so beyond excited to show it to you! It’s been in the works for a long time now. First just in my head, then shopping around for website developers (yes, I used a real professional this time instead of just pretending I know anything about WordPress themes!), and my developer and I finally have this thing in almost working order!
My reasons? First of all, I feel like the name of this blog, Texan New Yorker is now only half true. Thanks to Matt’s job, I keep moving away from NYC! Yes, we moved again this summer… And since he works in such an incestuous industry where the companies keep buying and eating each other, another move at some point wouldn’t be terribly shocking. On the purely pragmatic side, I’m feeling that tying the name of my blog to geography is no longer an accurate move.
Secondly, when I started Texan New Yorker, I was sooooo green and naïve on the blogging scene. I’ve made rookie mistakes, missteps of all kinds, and I took it in a direction I’m no longer happy with. I feel like it’s become somewhat inauthentic and not resembling my own voice as I’d like. I was a newbie, and felt somewhat tentative to speak my own mind and truth for fear of offending others and being ostracized. I’ve been overly concerned about SEO, which is often a deterrent to making food one’s own way, and feeling like I can’t, say, blog something non-Thanksgiving-y in the middle of November. Which is silly and needs to stop. So it will, come Tuesday November 7th!
I’m so thrilled with how the new site is turning out, and I so hope you all will join me in this next adventure! I promise it will be incredibly delicious recipes and much more interesting chat. I’ll write even more about it on Tuesday.
For now, Eggplant Parmesan, a beautiful comfort food dish I only learned to like in adulthood. We just didn’t have much eggplant growing up so it kind of freaked me out at first, and since it is oh noes vegetarian, for a while I just plain refused to try it. Loser. You know when I first bit the bullet and sampled it? At the Olive Garden. I’m not particularly proud of that, but there you have it.
This homemade version is of course far superior to what I had at the Garden, which probably isn’t saying much, but fear not, it’s totally delicious by much higher standards as well. We loved it. I bet you will too. Enjoy!
Source: very slightly adapted from Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup plus 3 cups grated parmesan
2 tbs dried oregano
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 medium eggplants
2 cups olive oil (can use canola or vegetable oil if your olive oil is really expensive)
3 whole garlic cloves
1 (32 oz.) jar good quality marinara (I used Rao’s Homemade)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I did not use fresh, I wanted less water for better melting)
10 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced, plus extra torn for garnish
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Set up a breading station in three separate shallow bowls or pie plates: place the flour in the first, the eggs in the second, and in the third combine the panko, ¼ cup parmesan, oregano, salt, and chile flakes.
Slice off ½ an inch from the top and bottom of the eggplants and discard. Use a peeler to remove the skin if it bothers you (it does not bother me so I skipped this step). Slice the eggplants into ¾-inch-thick rounds.
Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour, then eggs, then panko mixture.
Heat the olive oil and garlic cloves in a large saute pan over medium heat. Let the garlic get golden brown while the oil heats up. Once the oil is ready to fry the eggplant, remove the garlic and discard. It was just there to flavor the oil.
Increase the heat to medium-high, test it for readiness with a pinch of panko mixture. Once it is ready, fry the breaded eggplant slices for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Cool on a paper-towel lined plate or cooling rack. Do this in batches. You don’t want to cool the oil temperature too much and prevent the eggplant from browning and crisping up.
Now to assembly: ladle ¾ cup marinara into an 8×8-inch square baking dish. Layer the eggplant, more marinara, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil. Repeat until you have three layers of eggplant. Top with remaining cheese.
Cover with foil and place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, removing the foil after 25 minutes. The sauce and cheese should be bubbling. Let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with torn basil.