Herb Cheese-Stuffed and Fried Eggplant "Steaks" with Braised Radicchio, Fennel, and Escarole

Total Time:
1 hr 25 min
Prep:
30 min
Cook:
55 min

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds, (you should have about 8 equal size rounds, reserve extra eggplant for another use)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Homemade Herb Cheese, recipe follows
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Braised Radicchio, Fennel, and Escarole, recipe follows
  • Assorted chopped fresh herbs, garnish
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, rub both sides of each eggplant slice with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet.

Spoon herb cheese onto half of the eggplant slices, spreading outward but leaving a border at the edges. Top with the remaining eggplant slices, pressing to seal.

In a shallow bowl, season the flour with the Essence. Make an egg wash with the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Dredge the stuffed eggplant in the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the eggplant again in the seasoned flour, coating each side completely.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat enough vegetable oil over high heat to come 1/4-inch up the sides of the pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, carefully add the eggplant and pan-fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

To serve, pile the greens into the center of 2 plates. Top each with 1 stuffed fried eggplant. Garnish with the herbs and serve.

Braised Radicchio, Fennel, and Escarole:

Olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 small head fennel (about 1/2 pound), fronds removed and discarded, thinly sliced

1 pound escarole, cleaned and chopped

1/2 pound radicchio, cleaned, cored and chopped

1 cup vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup tomato concasse

1 lemon, juiced

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the fennel and saute until the fennel begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the greens and saute until they just begin to wilt. Add the vegetable stock and salt and pepper and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes for the last 5 minutes. Season, to taste, with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 servings

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Homemade Herb Cheese:

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped chives

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon leaves

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Place the ricotta in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Press down with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate until well drained, about 2 hours. Place in a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to blend, being careful not to over process.

Transfer to a piece of plastic and shape into a log. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (Alternately, spoon the cheese into a small decorative bowl, smoothing the top, to serve as a dip.) The cheese will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Yield: about 3/4 cup


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