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Recipe

Breaded Eggplant Cutlets

Servings: 4 to 6

In the poorer regions of Southern Italy, meatless meals are commonplace and eggplant is a favorite stand-in. A properly fried slice of eggplant cloaked in golden bread crumbs can be truly marvelous. Two caveats: first, find fresh, firm eggplants (without seedy centers) and, second, fry the slices gently in plenty of olive oil. For a warm  antipasto, top small eggplant cutlets with a bit of fresh mozzarella and basil. For a more substantial dish, serve with a simple, bright tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. small eggplants
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup coarse homemade bread crumbs, fresh or dried
  • Olive oil

Preparation

  • Peel the eggplants and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Put the flour on a plate. Beat the eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle a baking sheet generously with about half of the bread crumbs. Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour, then submerge in the egg batter. Remove the eggplant slices from the batter with a slotted spoon and lay them on top of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle heavily with the rest of the bread crumbs, pressing them firmly into the eggplant slices on both sides.
  • Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a wide cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is wavy, carefully add some of the breaded eggplant in one layer, without crowding, and fry until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Adjust the heat to keep them from browning too quickly. Turn the slices to cook the other side. Blot on paper towels and cook the remaining eggplant. Serve them plain, sprinkled with salt, or embellished with mozzarella and basil.

Tip

Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

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