Holy Smokes. This Eggplant Parm is friggin amazing. I was sitting at the kitchen counter back home in NJ, hunched over a Tupperware container holding what might as well have been hidden treasure. I ate quickly, stealing furtive glances at the door. I’m a thief. This eggplant parm wasn’t meant for me.
My big brother T had come home as well to help me plan my bridal shower menu, and well, there are a few things that are a given whenever we go home. 1) My mom makes us drink healing potions of Chinese herbal teas and soups (that’s for another post), 2) We start our diet of a bagel a day, and 3) Our Italian childhood friends bring us leftovers from our #1 most requested dish – homemade Eggplant Parmigiana.
It sounds funny now that I write about it, but yes, it’s true, my brother and I each have our own eggplant parm suppliers.
Mine is my girl, Michele, who I’ve known since the first grade, whose mom was my CCD teacher, and who recently stood next to me as my maid of honor. My brother’s eggplant parm connect is Corinne, who he’s known since the second grade, whose house he goes to every Christmas for their massive dessert spread featuring about a dozen different pies and cakes, and who will be a bridesmaid at his wedding next October. I know, the parallels are frightening.
In any case, it happened that my brother left behind his container of Corinne’s eggplant parm. Big mistake bro. Huge. At the Im household, ya snooze, ya lose. Especially when it comes to an unguarded eggplant parm.
So I dug in. And wow. I mean really. WOW. Sorry Shell, I love you and all, and no disrespect, but Corinne’s square of eggplant parm magic was just that. Magical. It was like the pinnacle of eggplant parm tastiness. Everything I wanted in the dish. Creamy, cheesy, savory, rich, comforting, homey perfection. (Shell: for the record, please don’t stop bringing me your eggplant parm. I will always eat it with gusto).
In any case, I was so moved by the explosion of tastiness in my mouth that I had to email Corinne for the recipe and make up for all these years I had been missing out on it.
I was dying to find out more about this magical eggplant parm of my dreams. Was it an old family recipe? Was it something she made all the time or just special occasions? Does it take a long time to make? What kind of mozzarella did she use?! It was astoundingly creamy and seemed to just melt into almost a sauce. I had so many questions. Did she use the big round-bottomed Italian eggplant, or the regular long ones? Did she “sweat” her eggplant before breading? Ok, clearly I was obsessed.
To my utter delight, Corinne was happy to share her family recipe! As it turns out, there are no crazy secrets to it. Except maybe lots of love and some time to devote to it. Interestingly, she says that between her mom, her sisters and herself, they all make it a little bit different. Corinne prefers thin slices of eggplant (as do I), while her sister prefers thicker slices. Corinne likes to make it in a square pan, her mom likes using a round one. Mom usually makes it for all holidays, but she likes it every now and again as a good comfort meal.
I gave the recipe a go – to be honest, it didn’t come out as good as Corinne’s, but I’m hoping I’ll get better with practice. Here’s what I learned:
This Eggplant Parm of my dreams is a bit time-intensive, and it’s not the healthiest dish, but mamma mia, is it good. Grazie mille to Corinne and the Testaverde family for sharing their prized family recipe. And Big Brother T, you better guard your Tupperwares now that I know what’s up.
Grazie mille to Corinne and the Testaverde family for sharing their prized family recipe. This is like the pinnacle of eggplant parm tastiness. Everything one could want in the dish — creamy, cheesy, savory, rich, comforting, homey perfection.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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This post is part of a series featuring recipes from the FOOD & WINE archive. As a FOOD & WINE Blogger Correspondent, I was chosen to do four recipes a week from FOOD & WINE. I received a subscription to FOOD & WINE for my participation.