Fried Egpplant with Balsamic Coffee Reduction

Fried Egpplant with Balsamic Coffee Reduction Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by an antipasto we had during our family trip to Italy last month. I didn't think "melanzane all'aceto balsamico", or eggplants with balsamic vinegar, would give me much of a thrill. But I was blown away by the flavor of this simple preparation with minimal ingredients. I decided that when I got back home, I’d prepare a similar starter dish.

First I pan-fried tender eggplant slices, then coated them in a balsamic reduction flavored with garlic, fresh oregano and dark, bold coffee. To provide a great contrast of color and texture, I topped the very nice and tasty eggplants with crumbled goat cheese, sweet basil and chocolate-covered coffee beans as a reminder of the flavor of the reduction.

It's the first time since the launch of PhamFatale.com that I've been away for so long. I've been swamped with work and my personal life is so chaotic these days, I didn't have a minute last week to be in front of the computer. I want to announce that I just completed my first, professionally filmed episode of a new cooking series. We worked day and night and finally wrapped the 20-ish-minute episode after taping on the last day for more than 15 consecutive hours, until dawn. It was challenging but it really gave me an insight into what really happens behind the scenes. A lot of mishaps happened on the first days (broken glass, crickets, yellow jackets and wildlife were part of the fun), but overall it was such a positive experience.

Thanks to the amazing filming crew, I had a lot of fun in a very friendly atmosphere. To show my appreciation, I concocted and packed a full meal for each member so I could be forgiven by their spouses after taking them away for such long hours. Thank you so much Polar Production Team for your professionalism, hard work, dedication and most  of all for believing in me. You guys rock! 

Cooking Series
Behind-the-scenes at the first episode of my new cooking series.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

2 large eggplants
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup quality balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup espresso coffee (2 shots)
1 sprig oregano, bruised
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves pickled garlic, freshly grated
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese, cold
3 tablespoons sweet basil leaves
2 tablespoons chocolate-covered coffee beans, optional


Directions

Trim and slice the eggplants crosswise. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect the excess moisture). Place the eggplant pieces on the rack and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

Brush a frynig pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Add the eggplant slices and cook on both sides for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Add more oil as necessary. Transfer to a platter and let cool.

Heat 2 teaspoons of garlic over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the espresso shots, oregano, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer and reduce until the liquid starts to thicken. Immediately dip the eggplant slices into the balsamic sauce mixture. 

Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with basil, top with the goat cheese and garnish with chocolate-covered coffee beans (if using). 

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could replace the coffee in this recipe with white wine and use fried zucchini, fried onions or any other fried vegetables instead of eggplants. 

 For a vegan version, omit the goat cheese to the starter dish. 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 18, 2014.


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