My Ma's Eggplant Parm
Growing up in New Jersey I have tried every iteration of eggplant parmesan that exists under the Parkway,
but none of them come close to my mom's pan o'parm.
Perhaps its the fusion of my dad's famous Sexy Sauce® with her generous 'dusting' of mozzarella cheese between the layers. Or maybe it's the perfectly crispy bits that accrue on top when her scattered brain forgets to check the oven.
One must come to terms before attempting another's signature recipe that it will taste markedly different than when said denim-shirted another cooks it for helpless one. For instance, my mom's eggplant parm came out way too saucy this time around. This is undoubtedly a result of negligence due to simultaneous Snapchatting and saucing.
Mom never makes this mistake because her primary intention is actually making the meal. She's focused on nourishing her two girls and her husband who will consume it altogether as a family while her third daughter barks for a plate at her feet.
Also, she only knows how to make calls on her phone.
As we revered in a parmesan induced state of intoxication my mom picked a crispy bit from the top, recalling her own mother's version of the dish.
"My mother never made parm with shredded mozzarella because my father was afraid of choking after his sister choked on a fish bone.
She survived, but eventually died from either an infected boil or a broken heart."
This is a true topic of controversy on my mother's side of the family.
I wonder, one day, which recipe will be assigned as 'My Mom's [Blank]'. Will it be pasta alla puttanesca or a kale and buckwheat salad. Most likely the former, as kale will be replaced by a trendier hologram leafy green by the time I settle down.
At my star-studded wake, my eldest son, Alec Baldwin Jr.'s voice will ring throughout the Ritz-Carlton dining room,
"My mamma Mia's memory will remain as pungent in our minds as her famous fishy sauce was in our mouths."
This will be followed by a communal hymn sung by Ariana Grande as all are invited to take a host of focaccia with a liter of wine.
I suppose I shouldn't aspire to being associated with the pasta sauce of a whore, but if that's what it takes to reach MILF status, I'll take it.
My Ma's Eggplant Parm:
When asked to provide a recipe, my mom scoffed, "I don't measure anything", thus the following is a list of approximations that I extracted during a commercial break of The Bachelor finale. This recipe makes one 13x9x2 lasagna pan, serving 4-6 people (or one hungry father whose commute home was delayed by an errand for our featured Queen of the Household).
- Vegetable peeler
- Cerraded knife
- 13x9x2 Baking Pan
- Baking cooling racks, or a large colander
- Baking sheets
- Large skillet
- Paper towels
- Aluminum foil
- Two shallow, rimmed dishes
- A sensible denim shirt
Peel your eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch discs, discarding the ends and the stem.
Pour kosher salt into a shallow dish and coat each eggplant slice generously with the salt on both sides. Place these slices on a baking rack or in a colander for an hour to release moisture as you try to forget that you just read the word 'moist'.
After an hour, rinse the sweaty slices well with cold water and pat dry. This salty process ironically releases the bitter taste from eggplant, making for a more delightful parmesan experience.
Whisk eggs in a shallow dish with a fork, and pour "lots" of breadcrumbs into a separate shallow dish.
Dip each eggplant slice into the whisked eggs and then into the breadcrumb platter, placing aside on a baking sheet to hang out before frying.
Heat enough vegetable oil to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet (about 1/2 cup) over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, fry dredged eggplant slices in small batches until golden brown on each side.
Move the plantz to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to blot.
Spoon enough marinara sauce to coat the bottom of your baking pan, followed by a tightly-packed layer of fried eggplant slices. Top it off with another layer of marinara, followed by a dairy shower of mozzarella cheese and Pecorino Romano.
Repeat this process once more, finishing with a drizzle of marinara sauce for optimal ma®keting purposes.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake 45 minutes, then remove the foil for a final 10-15 minutes in the oven depending on how crisp you prefer your parm.
Remove from the oven and cover with foil to settle for ten minutes before mangia-ing at table full of loved ones.
Enjoy your parm like my mom with an additional spoonful of Pecorino Romano, with a dash of spicy red pepper flake like I prefer, or eat the entire plate in one bite chased by a lullaby from your mother, like my dog.