Friday, February 20, 2009

Eggplant Gratin

I came home to an eggplant on my kitchen counter. My mom said she would make eggplant Parmesan. I like when she does this- unexpectedly brings home an ingredient, saying that she will cook it, almost challenging me to do something better with it.
I peered in the fridge. Smoked mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, milk and cream caught my eye. Gratin was my immediate thought. Who says gratin is only for potatoes anyway?

I've written about preparing the potato gratin at Lacroix before, and I used the same technique here, as I did there to make the gratin, substituting the eggplant for potato, and using some milk (cause we had whole milk that we needed to get rid of) and some cream. Oh, and for all you control freaks out there, this isn't a measured out recipe. Before you can make a good gratin you have to get a feel for preparing it.
Two large eggplants
Lemons (for zest)
Mozzarella (grated)

I steeped (brought to a simmer then shut off) about equal parts milk and cream with 4 cloves of garlic, and about 10 sprigs of thyme. Meanwhile, I sliced my eggplant lengthwise on a mandoline and placed the slices in a buttered roasting pan. After each layer of eggplant, I poured a little of the now-steeped cream, grated some Parmesan and lemon zest, and sprinkled some mozzarella. I simply stopped when I ran out of eggplant. A great chef once told me that a gratin has the right amount of cream when you can press down firmly on the gratin, and just a little bit of cream will come up the sides. I baked the gratin in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes covered in foil. I then removed the foil and let it cook for another 30 minutes or until the eggplant was tender and the cheese on top formed a nice golden-brown crust. Let cool slightly, then enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea! And oh boy does it look delicious in that last photo. I often use yams instead of potatoes for a gratin, but I guess that's pretty standard.