I have been making eggplant parmesan for 18 yrs now. I discovered a recipe in a Southern Living cookbook and taught myself how to execute it. This is not a meal that that I grew up on. My mom is not an eggplant fan, let alone eggplant parmesan. Her experience with eggplant parmesan has always been watery casseroles with thick slices, so when I decided to give it a try she was not excited.
The original recipe calls for a cracker coating with flour and seasoning(which is what makes regular eggplant parmesan the bomb), egg and heavy cream, sauce either homemade or jarred, and mozzarella cheese. A handy tip in the sidebar was to salt the eggplant slices and let sit for 20 minutes to remove the bitterness.
It’s also a recipe that you absolutely have to plan for. You can prep ahead and fry up the eggplant slices, freeze them, and when you’re ready to make your casserole just thaw out the slices, get your sauce ready and assemble. Normally when I make this recipe, from start to finish, it takes me 3hrs. Sometimes longer depending on how much eggplant I have to use up.
So, for this keto version I decided to use pork rinds mixed with parmesan cheese, and a little almond flour. I’ll admit that I was concerned about the coating adhering properly. Eggplant isn’t chicken, but after adding the first few slices to the hot oil I could see that the underside was browning quite beautifully! Enough gabbing, here goes…
What you’ll need:
Yields: 10 servings
2 medium eggplant or 1 large, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound ground beef, 80/20
6 sausage patties, optional
1 onion, diced
24.5 oz Mezzetta Nappa Valley Homemade Sauce Marinara
13 oz pork rinds, finely ground
1 1/2 c Kraft Parmesan cheese
1/2 c super fine almond flour
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp granulated garlic
5 large eggs, whisked
16oz Galbani Fresh Mozzarella
(The following directions are going to be broken down in sections. If you have any questions please feel free to ask for clarification.)
Peel and thinly slice eggplant. Salt both sides and layer in a large bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes.
In a large pan brown ground beef and sausage, adding onions and cooking until transparent. Pour in marinara sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat and set aside.
Pork Rind Coating:
In a food processor, mine is 7qt, add pork rinds and grind down into a fine (oily) dust. This took me about three batches to do. Pour contents into a large bowl and add parmesan cheese, almond flour, granulated garlic, and dried basil. Mix either with a fork or hand breaking up almond flour and parm cheese lumps. Set aside.
Rinse eggplant sliced thoroughly under cool water and place on layers of paper towels. A sheet pan some in handy since it offers more surface for places the rinsed sliced.
Egg and Heavy Cream Wash:
Whisk eggs together and then add the heavy cream. This way you can make sure the whites get mixed in thoroughly before adding the heavy cream.
In a large skillet heat up favorite frying oil. Set up dredge station for ease of process. Begin by adding eggplant slices into egg wash and then into pork rind coating. Shake off excess and add to hot oil. Fry until nicely browned on both sides. Continue this process until all the eggplant is cooked.
Set oven to 375F and grab a 9×13 casserole dish. No need to spray your pan if it’s nonstick. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella and set aside.
Add 1/3 of your meaty sauce in the bottom of the pan. Spread out evenly. Cover with half of the fried eggplant, 1/2 of fresh mozzarella slices, and repeat ending with fresh mozzarella on top. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, bake for an additional 10 minutes (if desired) until hot all the way through and bubbly around the edges.
Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
This was a huge success tonight! Tasted as good as ever and you absolutely cannot tell that any pork rinds were used. It’s worth the time it took and leftovers are amazing the next day as the flavors have had a chance to blend. You can make this 100% vegetarian by leaving out the meat and substituting the cheese if needed.
Of course, fried eggplant slices are great alone. Serve them up with mashed cauliflower, a meatloaf, baked chicken thighs, etc. You can also use them to make a deconstructed eggplant parmesan. Plate it up with you favorite sauce, top with fresh parmesan cheese, and maybe some roasted vegetables on the side.
Hope you all enjoy!