This is a dish that needs no explanation. Layers of fried eggplant, sauce and cheese--I like a blend of mozzarella and ricotta, baked together into a gooey, delicious casserole.
It's also a dish that benefits from being made at home. Peel and thinly slice your eggplant, I like to use my Chinese mandoline, and soak it in cold salted water. All the bitter juices will be drawn out, generally I change the water once but if I've stumbled across older eggplant I might need to change it twice. Flour, egg, and breadcrumb coating, spiked with parmesan and garlic. The beauty of home cooking is that you get to eat a few hot out of the fryer before using the rest for another dish.
After frying the first few rounds I let my eggplant rest on paper towels or on a rack set over a sheet pan and I start building the layers as I continue to fry. Make sure you've got an hour or so before dinner so everything has time to come together in the oven. Homemade sauce is wonderful but in a pinch Rao's with a little bit of water does the trick nicely. It costs a little more but it's worth having in the pantry.
Fresh eggplant parmigiana, that hasn't rested overnight in the fridge, is pretty special stuff. The eggplant layers are soft and silky and you can really taste the flavor of the vegetable. The ricotta adds sweetness and a little creamy texture to balance out the rich sauce and oozing mozz. It's a pretty wonderful dish. All you need is good bread and a salad to serve alongside. The leftovers are nothing to sneeze at either, but after a night in the fridge everything melds together and you lose a bit of the individual textures and flavors. Still tasty but not necessarily better than your favorite Italian restaurant. Go for the gusto, try this one at home. It's a great way to start the new year.