Just like temperamental climate, parmigiana di melanzane is all approximately layers: aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese (mozzarella, scamorza, caciocavallo and regularly parmesan, too). The “parm” does now not, as I thought for decades, talk over with the inclusion of parmesan cheese.
According to Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy’s Abundant Isle, by using Mary Taylor Simeti, it refers to Parmigiano, this means that shutters in Sicilian. One day, as a person someplace in Sicily organized slices of fried aubergine, corners overlapping corners, they had been reminded of wooden shutters and their overlapping slats. However, as Sicilians war to pronounce the letter “l”, their creation has become parmigiana di melanzane rather. This should of direction be one of the many gastronomic testimonies which are surpassed round like Chinese whispers, but, proper or no longer, the idea of shutters is a useful one in terms of creation, reminding us how the fried slices should be arranged.
The first query with this dish is whether to fry or no longer to fry. Fry, fry, fry is sort of continually my solution, specifically on the subject of aubergine slices for parmigiana. This is usually because I like the thick, velvet-like texture and deep flavor this is created by means of letting slices dance round a pan of hot olive oil till mild golden in color and ever so slightly crisp.
Second, whilst aubergine is immersed absolutely in warm oil (olive or vegetable), the cooking time is reduced and with it the quantity of fats absorbed. Door open huge, shower cap on, I fry in a deep frying pan, heating inches of oil till a dice of bread dances across the pan with a coat of bubbles. I fry four large aubergines sliced into 3mm rounds in batches, and, as soon as golden, elevate them directly to a tray lined with lots of kitchen paper to empty. I even have determined that that is a task that takes exactly the same quantity of time as two returned-to-returned episodes of Desert Island Discs.
For a leaner model in both spirit and flavour, the slices may be brushed with olive oil and roasted within the oven or seared on a grill pan, until smooth and branded with darkish traces.
Whether you pick to fry, bake or grill, even as the aubergine slices rest, cut 400g mozzarella into thin, scraggy slices (or in reality shred it), grate 150g parmesan and tip 300ml clean tomato sauce right into a bowl. This may be your personal sauce or an excellent-first-class passata from a jar, or a tin of peeled plum tomatoes exceeded through a food mill and pro with salt and ripped basil.
Now it’s all approximately making layers in an oven-evidence dish – a 40cm x 27cm Pyrex one is right. Start with a layer of aubergine, the corners overlapping barely like shutters, followed through a smear of tomato sauce, a few ripped basil leaves, mozzarella and parmesan. Repeat this collection of layers until you have used up all the ingredients, finishing with a layer of aubergine. The pinnacle will want a thick carpet of grated parmesan and some breadcrumbs, too, if you like, plus a zigzag of olive oil.
The resting is as important as the cooking. Once the parmigiana has been baked at 180C (160C fan)/fuel four for half-hour, depart to sit down for at the least more than one hours and up to 12. It is the identical precept right here as with lasagne; whilst served immediately from the oven, it will likely be a smooth and sloppy affair, the considerable warmness blinding the flavour. Resting will not most effective increase the flavor, it’s going to additionally permit the melted mozzarella and parmesan to settle and firm up into a coherent entire.
I regularly make a shutter-like parmigiana inside the morning for the nighttime, or in the evening for the following day. When it’s time to consume, I deliver the parmigiana any other 10 minutes within the oven and a few greater underneath the grill, till the top bubbles madly. Green salad with red-wine vinegar is a superb associate for a square of this, at the identical plate if you’re English (me) or on a separate one in case you’re Italian.
The day before, positioned the mozzarella in a sieve over a bowl and drain for 24 hours. The next day, reduce the mozzarella into skinny, shaggy slices. Slice the aubergine into 3mm-thick rounds.
In a small, deep frying pan, heat two inches of oil till hot and fry the aubergine slices in batches, turning, until they may be golden brown on each facets. Lift onto a baking tray covered with kitchen towel to drain. If you need to bake the aubergine, brush the slices with oil, sprinkle with a touch salt and lay on a baking tray. Roast at 200C (180C fan)/390F/fuel 6 for 30 minutes, or until browned and gentle. To griddle, brush the aubergine slices with oil, sprinkle with a touch salt and cook dinner in a warm griddle pan until gentle and branded with dark strains.
In a 40cm x 27cm pyrex dish, lay a base of aubergine slices, smear over a number of the tomato sauce or passata, scatter over a quarter of the mozzarella, a few grated parmesan and ripped basil. Repeat the layers till you have used up all the substances, finishing with a layer of auberinge. Sprinkle over the past of the parmesan and zigzag with olive oil.
Bake at 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 for half-hour, then go away to relaxation for at the least three and as much as to twelve hours. When you are geared up to consume, reheat the parmigiana in a warm oven for 10 mins, completing under the grill till effervescent, in case you wish.