Thursday, April 24, 2008

Biba's Savory Eggplant Polpette



I've always loved watching Biba Caggiano. She made food that you wanted to eat. It was always simple, fresh, and delicious. My Mom and I used to watch her show together all the time. She always liked that Biba would say things like "Use real cream and real butter, but eat just one." In other words, it's better to have just one really good one, rather than several that aren't as good. I love that.
So, of course, I HAD to buy From Biba's Italian Kitchen. I'm not kidding when I tell you that every single recipe I've tried from this cookbook is amazing.
This is the very first recipe I tried. The polpette are simple yet elegant. Try serving them with drinks the next time you entertain friends.

1 medium eggplant, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch rounds.
salt
1 large egg yolk
1 clove garlic, minced
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
or 2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying

Place the eggplant slices on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let stand one hour. The salt will draw out the bitter eggplant juices. Pat the slices dry with a paper towel.
Bring a medium-size saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the eggplant slices and cook 3-4 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Drain and place slices on paper towels to drain and to cool.
Chop The eggplant very fine with a large knife or in a food processor, and place in a medium size bowl. (if you're using a food processor, make sure not to puree the eggplant.)
Add egg yolk and garlic to the eggplant, along with the basil or parsley, the Parmesan and 2-3 tbs of bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together. Cover bowl and refrigerate for about an hour to allow mixture to firm up.
Take about 1 tablespoon of the eggplant mixture between the palms of your hands and roll into a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture. When all the polpette have been shaped, coat them in bread crumbs. They can be fried immediately, or they can be placed on a platter and refrigerated uncovered, for a few hours.
Heat one inch of oil in a medium size skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, lower a few polpette at a time into the oil with with a slotted spoon. Cook until they are lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove them with the slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain.
Serve hot or at room temperature.


Tip from Joey:
I like to serve them with marinara sauce for dipping. Unbelievably good!

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