Melanzane alla parmigiana
Meanwhile a little olive oil was heated in the 8 inch BGE drip pan which we had with us – really too large for the Mini BGE it was all we had that was large enough to make the dish and allow closure of the lid – just! The chopped shallots were added to the pan and softened, then the sliced garlic cloves were added and cooked a little before the tomatoes were added the halved baby tomatoes first to lightly fry off then the tinned tomatoes and red wine.
This was then all allowed to simmer until the volume was reduced by about a third. The tomatoes were mashed until reasonably smooth, seasoned and had a little basil and sugar added then left to simmer for a further 10 mins.
The tomato sauce was decanted into a bowl to allow access to our one pan. This was washed and then lightly greased and spread with a thin layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of aubergines packed tightly, mozzarella, parmesan and seasoning. This was then repeated until all the ingredients were used finishing with the tomato sauce. I had certainly miscalculated the shrinkage that would occurred in the aubergines and this was going to be a very light supper!
One of the recipes I found suggested adding a layer of stale breadcrumbs at the end and then topping this with the remains of the cheese.Italian bread goes stale so quickly we had a ready supply! The breadcrumbs were tossed with a little olive oil and Parmesan and sprinkled on top. Put back in the EGG it was baked for about 40 minutes. I was hoping for a lovely bubbling crispy top but that was not to be.
As I had suggested the 8 inch drip pan was really a little too big preventing good circulation of heat into the dome. As a result the top looked a little bland and the sides rather than the top a little crispy. The pan was removed and the dish allowed to cool slightly and then it was served warm with some basil and freshly ground pepper.
This first attempt was an imperfect dish to be sure, but one that captured a lot of the essence of the one that inspired it. Rich, sumptuous and surprisingly meaty with a real umami essence. It was also good enough to know that over the months we would modify this a little and cook on a more appropriately sized EGG. Whilst very pleased with the development of the dish it still doesn’t quite match my holiday memory of that first mouthful in the Dolomites. When it does we will post the next installment – watch this space!
If you have a favourite recipe for this dish do please share it in the comments section