When making such Italian-American classics such as eggplant parmesan, you usually don’t think of the grill. The traditional start to this classic dish is either to bread and fry the eggplant before assembling or to simply just fry the slices. They could also be baked, but why not give them a quick char on the grill?The one thing that is displeasing with a lot of restaurant versions of eggplant parmesan is that the final product is too greasy. Eggplant is nature’s sponge and absorbs any and all liquids in its path. So deep frying, even if at the proper time at temperature, will completely saturate the slices of eggplant.Lightly brushing the eggplant with a little oil will only allow it to absorb enough to coat a thin outer layer of the eggplant. When grilling these lightly oiled eggplants there will be just enough oil to char (or lightly grill fry) the outside and cook all the way through without getting soggy.The eggplant should be soft all the way through but not falling apart when finished. The result after layering with sauce, breadcrumbs and cheese is a light, clean tasting and greasy free eggplant parmesan.The grilled eggplant parmesan below includes a recipe for pecan bacon breadcrumbs that takes this dish to another level, feel free to substitute with regular or Panko bread crumbs with great results.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan with Pecan Bacon Bread Crumbs:
Serves 4 2-3 eggplants with ends removed, peel, slice lengthwise 1” thick (12 slices) To brush - extra virgin olive oil To Taste - Kosher salt & black pepper 6 cups of your favorite red sauce 2 cups of pecan bacon breadcrumbs (see recipe below) 2 cups of parmesan cheese, freshly grated 4 cups mozzarella, shredded 4 tablespoons fresh oreganoEggplant:
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Pre-heat grill for direct heat grilling to medium high heat; brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Place on a baking sheet and allow to cool.
Cover the bottom of a large iron skillet, or two, with a little red sauce. Lay the four biggest pieces of grilled eggplant on the red sauce and spoon on enough red sauce to cover the eggplant. Top the sauce with some of the pecan bacon bread crumbs, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and then about a half tablespoon of oregano.Place the next biggest size grilled eggplant slices on top of each to form the next layer. Repeat a layer of red sauce, pecan bacon bread crumbs, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and oregano.Top each with remaining pieces of eggplant and cover with red sauce, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Grill/Bake:Place skillet(s) on the top rack of a preheated grill or in a 350 degree preheated oven, for 6 to 8 minutes or until warmed through and cheese is golden and gooey. Remove from grill/oven, using a long flat metal spatula, remove the eggplant from the skillet and place on a plate, top with a little warmed red sauce, parmesan cheese and serve.
Pecan Bacon Breadcrumbs
10 slices French bread, sliced 1-inch thick, oiled, grilled, rubbed with garlic, stale 1/2 pound bacon, peppered, cooked, drained and rough chopped 1 cup raw pecans - whole pieces 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oilCut stale garlic toast into cubes and place in a food processor, pulse until bread cubes are smooth crumbs. Remove from the processor and place in a mixing bowl.Next, place the pecans in the food processor and pulse until they are in small but textured pieces, do not over-process and turn into a powder; you still want to be able to see the pieces of the pecans in the breading. Place in the bowl with the bread crumbs.Place the bacon in the processor and pulse like the pecans until you have small but recognizable pieces. Place in the bowl with the bread crumbs and pecans and add the salt, pepper and oil. Mix with your hand to combine. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.