I have been thinking about this recipe for a long time. How would I do it? See…I have never made eggplant before and I know that it can be tough and/or even bitter…well…I’m happy to say…this recipe for my Eggplant Napoleons is a winner! It’s as if an eggplant married a parmesan and a lasagna. It’s not a quick meal…a few more steps than my usual recipes, but I can assure you, so worth it! I made my own sauce and will tell you how I make mine below, but you can skip this step and use one of your own or one of your favorite jarred sauces. I like mine because it is a very clean sauce.
What you need:
For the sauce:
- 2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
- 2 29 oz. cans Hunt’s tomato sauce (salt…do not use the no salt added, it makes the sauce too sweet)
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves
- 4 to 5 dried bay leaves
- about 1 C water
For the eggplant napoleons:
- 1 large graffiti (Sicilian) eggplant
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- flour for dredging (about 2 cups)
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk or heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs (unseasoned)
- 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
- canola oil
- 1/2 to 3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbls nutmeg
- fresh parsley
- 16 slices mozzarella
- fresh basil
If you are making my sauce, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pot. Season the pork chops with salt/pepper. Add to the pot and brown on both sides. Add in the tomato sauce, garlic cloves and bay leaves. Allow to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves and pork. Mash the garlic cloves with a spoon against the pot. This is an amazing sauce. You will have leftovers and can easily freeze.
While the sauce is cooking, slice the eggplant into thin, long strips…about 1/3″ to 1/4″ thick (you should get about 14 slices…the recipe only calls for 12). Lay each slice flat on paper towels and dust lightly with salt. Allow the eggplant slices to lay on the paper towels for about 1/2 hour. This will draw out some of the water and take out the bitterness.
While you are waiting on the eggplant, in a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 2 TBLS fresh chopped parsley, one egg, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg. Season lightly with salt/pepper. Stir to combine all of the ingredients and store in fridge.
Create a dredging station. One pan for the flour (seasoned lightly with salt/pepper), another for the remaining five eggs and the milk or cream (I used heavy whipping cream in this recipe), and another for the panko and seasoned bread crumbs.
In a non-stick skillet, heat up the canola oil (just about 1/2″ deep…the oil should not be able to fully submerge the eggplant slices). Dredge each slice in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to coat evenly. I do mine in batches. The eggplant slices are fairly large, so I fry up about 2 to 3 at a time. Once brown, remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Continue this process until all of the eggplant slices are fried.
To assemble, I pour a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom of an oven-safe pan or dish. Lay one eggplant slice down, top with a thick coat of the ricotta mixture. Lay another slice of eggplant (I lay the second eggplant slice the opposite way of the first and so on for the last layer) on top, layer that slice with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese. Lay the third and last slice of eggplant on top of the mozzarella cheese. Pour sauce on top and top with additional mozzarella cheese. Continue this process until you have four completed stacks (Napoleons).
Bake in oven at 375 for about 10 minutes. You just want the ricotta mixture to heat and the cheese to melt. Set oven to broil for about 1 minute or just until the top layer of cheese is brown and bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy! If you want this recipe to be keto-friendly, you can skip breading the eggplant. I did not test it, but you should at least slightly saute the eggplant prior to building the stacks.