Friday, October 9, 2009

Pankoesque Breading, Shocking Dip

Imagine this spaghetti-sauce-covered slice of eggplant flipped over, coated on the other side, and then fried.
Making eggplant Parmesan again, I decided to alter my recipe in two ways. First, since everybody is raving about the superiority of panko bread crumbs, I decided to push some saltines through my kitchen screen which has a lot bigger holes than my regular sieves. Easy enough if you have the larger sieve, which I do.

I am becoming convinced a modern versatile kitchen needs several sizes of sieves. I have already used mine to sort nutmeats for various recipes. If the nut pieces don't go through, they need a bit more breakage.

My normal breading for eggplant is a mixture of flour, a bit of cornbread mix, and cracker crumbs, plus a lot of garlic powder and salt, pepper, and thyme or oregano. The panko-sized crumbs were a new thing and I liked the looks of it. I usually pushed my crackers through my fine standard sieve, which does make a tasty breading with good texture. Most people actually achieve roughly the same fine texture by rolling their crackers with a rolling pin. Still, the panko people had me wondering. So along with the other ingredients, I mixed the coarser sized cracker crumbs.

The other new thing was a technique I saw on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Somebody breaded fried chicken by first dipping it in, instead of a milk and egg dip or similar, a dip of barbecue sauce! Then they dipped it in the breading. My jaw dropped open! I never thought to do that! So today's dip was into the same spaghetti sauce I am going to use to assemble my eggplant Parmesan.

I dipped every piece of eggplant slice into that spaghetti sauce and then into the breading mix. I fried them in hot Canola oil.

The results were excellent. I am having to fight the urge to eat them all before I assemble the final dish. The tomato sauce did not cause the eggplant to blacken or anything, and the spice of the sauce is built in to the final product.

Sure, there will be more sauce added later. But I saved a step, by not having to mess with eggs and milk. I had spaghetti sauce to handle anyway. And the taste is better than my former method. I think I will try this with squash, maybe okra, and who knows what.

My eggplant Parmesan is a layer of elbow macaroni (yeah, how cheap can I go?) then the layer of sliced fried eggplant, then some sauted yellow tomato slices, a bunch of grated Parm, then the store-bought spaghetti sauce. About 10 minutes before it's done I'll toss on some more grated Parm. I figured about 25 to 45 minutes at 325° F. total time in the oven. 48 minutes did it.

UPDATE: A friend has told me her grandmother used plain yellow mustard to make the crumbs stick to her fried fish, notably catfish! Boy howdy!

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