Recipe Review

The High-Effort, High-Reward Eggplant Parmesan I’ll Make Again and Again

updated Jul 31, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell; Design: The Kitchn

When it came time to choose contenders for this week’s eggplant Parmesan recipe showdown, I knew I wanted to include four recipes with distinct points of view. I had nailed down a Sicilian-style recipe, which contains no mozzarella; a Neapolitan-style recipe, which eschews the breading (and the Parmesan); and a recipe that opts to bake the eggplant rather than fry it. But I was missing the Italian-American version that so many of us associate with the term: breaded and fried eggplant layered with tomato sauce, eggplant, and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Stacy Adimando’s recipe from her cookbook, Piatti, which is featured on Saveur with permission from Chronicle Books, looked to do just that. Deemed the “best ever,” Stacy is an Italian food expert and the recipe was taught to her by her Italian grandmother. Needless to say, it seemed legit — and deserving of the final spot in our showdown. Here’s what happened when I gave it a try.

Get the recipe: Best-Ever Eggplant Parmigiana

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Stacy Adimando’s Best-Ever Eggplant Parmigiana

Of all the recipes I tried, this was definitely the most time-consuming. You’ll start by making the sauce: Sauté lots of crushed garlic cloves in olive oil in a large pot, add whole peeled tomatoes that have been blended until just slightly chunky, and some salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce gently for an hour and a half.

Next, you’ll peel and thinly slice the eggplant and set up your dredging station by whisking together eggs and water in one shallow bowl and plain dry breadcrumbs, dried Italian seasoning, and salt in another. Dredge the eggplant slices on both sides in the egg wash, followed by the breadcrumb mixture, and place them on a baking sheet.

Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided pan, fry the eggplant until golden-brown, and let it drain on another baking sheet you’ve lined with paper towels. Once all the eggplant is fried, you’ll layer the slices in a baking dish with your homemade sauce, shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Finally, you’ll bake the eggplant Parm for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is bubbling.

Credit: Photo: Tara Donne | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

My Honest Review of Stacy’s Best-Ever Eggplant Parmigiana

This recipe took me the longest to make because of the hour and a half allocated to making the tomato sauce, but it was 100% worth the effort. This was a high-effort, high-reward eggplant Parmesan that received rave reviews from everyone that tasted it, and I’d make it again without hesitation.

The recipe is Italian-American in style, as the eggplant is breaded (which it’s not in true Italian versions) and doesn’t hold back on the cheese and sauce. That said, it wasn’t heavy or over-the-top, the culprit of so many Italian-American versions. Instead, it was oh-so silky and just the right amount of luxe. Each component shone, and every single one of my family members went back for a second helping. It also held together beautifully when sliced.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

If You’re Making Stacy’s Eggplant Parmesan, a Few Tips

  1. Break up the work. I made this eggplant Parm from start to finish in one afternoon and I was pretty exhausted by the time we sat down to dinner. The recipe suggests that you break up the tasks, and you should heed that advice. Make the sauce up to two days ahead, the fried eggplant up to one day ahead, and even the assembled dish up to one day ahead, too.
  2. Slice your eggplant thinly. The recipe says to cut the eggplant into rounds that are no thicker than 1/4-inch, and it’s crucial to the recipe’s success. The thinner the slices, the more quickly they’ll fry, the less oil they’ll absorb in the process, and the silkier every forkful will be.
  3. Pay attention to the amount of cheese called for. There’s a small error in the ingredients. It refers to 1 1/2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella as 10 1/2 ounces, but it’s actually just 6 ounces. Also, while the ingredients say you’ll just need 3 ounces of finely grated Pecorino Romano, you’ll actually need more for sprinkling on top.

    Rating: 10/10

    Have you ever made this eggplant Parmigiana recipe? Tell us what you thought!
Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell; Design: The Kitchn