Grease sometimes gives this dish a bad rap. The trick is to fry the breaded eggplant quickly over high heat, so it doesn’t absorb too much oil, then drain on paper towels to remove any excess.
Yield: Serves 8
Breading and Frying
- 2 cups fine plain fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more if needed
- Marinara Sauce
- 3 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)
- 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1. Bread and fry the eggplant. Combine breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Put flour, eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in 3 separate dishes. Dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Dredge in breadcrumbs to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Heat oil in large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. (Oil is ready when a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in.) Working in batches, fry eggplant until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. (If oil gets too dirty, discard, and heat an additional 1/4 cup.)
3. Assemble the dish: Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant on top, overlapping slightly. Top with 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano. Repeat twice to form layers with eggplant, sauce, then cheeses. Cover with foil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes more.