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Old 11-19-2008, 02:49 AM   #1
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Making Bread Crumbs Stick

Hi All,

This is my first post so first off, hi! :)

Now for the question, my g/f and I tried making Eggplant Parmigiana last weekend. It turned out really well BUT the texture was slightly off. I have a feeling this was because the frying process didn't go as planned. The bread crumbs refused to stick to the eggplant. So, how do we manage to get them to stick? We are both vegetarian and she prefers no eggs so if it's possible without using egg that would be great. Thanks!

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Old 11-19-2008, 04:35 AM   #2
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Hi Joel
Getting the crumb to stick to the eggplant in the first place takes practice. Sub the egg wash with a flour and water wash a little thicker than milk and it will do the same job.
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:29 AM   #3
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Normally, I'd do flour, egg, breadcrumb. You could try flour, water, breadcrumb.

Give the cutlets a chance to set before frying them, too. Leave them for half an hour after you bread them before you fry them.
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:50 AM   #4
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I was going to suggest batter dipped, but batter requires at least egg yolks. Seems that eggs are Mother Nature's glue for bread crumbs. Good luck with an alternative glue for your crumbs.

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Old 11-19-2008, 11:33 AM   #5
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I was going to suggest batter dipped, but batter requires at least egg yolks. Seems that eggs are Mother Nature's glue for bread crumbs. Good luck with an alternative glue for your crumbs.

JoeV
Commercial batter doesn't have egg in it Joe, be it for battering or as a wash for crumbing, so do just the flour and water and it will work fine. You will notice a slight difference in taste and the thicker the batter the more crumb on the product so you need to be careful.
Flour then the wash then the crumb, I coat with fine semolina instead of flour, that way you can stack the items before going through the wash and they will not stick together.
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Old 11-19-2008, 12:23 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! I will probably try this out in a couple weeks and see how it goes. When I put it on do I just use a brush or do I actually submerge the eggplant into the wash for a few seconds?
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:24 PM   #7
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Fried eggplant is one of my favorite dishes either as it is or in eggplant parmesan. I don't know that you can really make the crumbs stick without the egg so that's not something I can comment on but it seems that the egg would give the crumbs something to hang on to.

I just wanted to share a tip with you. I started doing this a few years ago and it worked so well I do it with everything I bread. Instead of flour, use cornstarch. Cornstarch has a way of keeping whatever you're frying crisp and crunchy. Don't keep the heat too low or you'll wind up with soggy fried food, but try the cornstarch and see if it makes a difference to you. When I fry eggplant slices, they crisp up beautifully. And because this is corn flour instead of wheat flour, it can be used for those with allergies to wheat products.
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:38 PM   #8
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Ah.. Flour the egg plant, then dip in egg then flour again.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:22 PM   #9
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Fried eggplant is one of my favorite dishes either as it is or in eggplant parmesan. I don't know that you can really make the crumbs stick without the egg so that's not something I can comment on but it seems that the egg would give the crumbs something to hang on to.

I just wanted to share a tip with you. I started doing this a few years ago and it worked so well I do it with everything I bread. Instead of flour, use cornstarch. Cornstarch has a way of keeping whatever you're frying crisp and crunchy. Don't keep the heat too low or you'll wind up with soggy fried food, but try the cornstarch and see if it makes a difference to you. When I fry eggplant slices, they crisp up beautifully. And because this is corn flour instead of wheat flour, it can be used for those with allergies to wheat products.
I also use cornstarch first then egg then crumbs. This summer I made fried eggplant slices that way with panko bread crumbs they came out great.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:28 PM   #10
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going to try the cornstarch thing.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:36 PM   #11
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I don't know how I'd like it in Eggplant Parm, but I often use a thin coat of mustard to anchor the crumbs on fish.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:59 PM   #12
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I don't know how I'd like it in Eggplant Parm, but I often use a thin coat of mustard to anchor the crumbs on fish.
Great idea. Not only does the mustard act as an anchor for the crumbs but add a delicious flavor to the fish.
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:31 PM   #13
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Hi All,

This is my first post so first off, hi! :)

Now for the question, my g/f and I tried making Eggplant Parmigiana last weekend. It turned out really well BUT the texture was slightly off. I have a feeling this was because the frying process didn't go as planned. The bread crumbs refused to stick to the eggplant. So, how do we manage to get them to stick? We are both vegetarian and she prefers no eggs so if it's possible without using egg that would be great. Thanks!
Hi Joel,

I appreciate that this is your first posting and welcome to DC.

However, in my experience, living on the other (European) side of the pond and having lots of Italian friends and relatives, when making Eggplant Pamigiana or Melanzane di Parmigiana, the eggplant/aubergine is never dipped in breadcrumbs and fried and used in this way in this dish.

The egg plant/aubergine is simply fried, with or without salting slices, washed, dried and then fried, or leaving slices in acidulated water (water and vinegar), washed and drained and then fried. Drain the slices after frying and they give up a lot of the oil.

The other two ingredients for the dish are first, freshly grated parmesan or Gran Padanno cheese and a good tomato sauce made using onions, garlic, tomatoes, touch of white wine (preferably) or red if you must! plus seasonings. The sauce need to be cooked until rich and unctuous.

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the base of an oven proof dish. Top with a layer of eggplant/aubergine. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a sprinkling of cheese and repeat, repeat, repeat! Finish with a layer of tomato sauce and top cheese and only at this point would one add any breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbling and brown.

One can make individual portions or a big dish to go with steaks, rib roast, roast chichen (really good with this) etc.

Hope this helps,

Archiduc
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:51 PM   #14
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Hi Joel,

I appreciate that this is your first posting and welcome to DC.

However, in my experience, living on the other (European) side of the pond and having lots of Italian friends and relatives, when making Eggplant Pamigiana or Melanzane di Parmigiana, the eggplant/aubergine is never dipped in breadcrumbs and fried and used in this way in this dish.

The egg plant/aubergine is simply fried, with or without salting slices, washed, dried and then fried, or leaving slices in acidulated water (water and vinegar), washed and drained and then fried. Drain the slices after frying and they give up a lot of the oil.

The other two ingredients for the dish are first, freshly grated parmesan or Gran Padanno cheese and a good tomato sauce made using onions, garlic, tomatoes, touch of white wine (preferably) or red if you must! plus seasonings. The sauce need to be cooked until rich and unctuous.

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the base of an oven proof dish. Top with a layer of eggplant/aubergine. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a sprinkling of cheese and repeat, repeat, repeat! Finish with a layer of tomato sauce and top cheese and only at this point would one add any breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbling and brown.

One can make individual portions or a big dish to go with steaks, rib roast, roast chichen (really good with this) etc.

Hope this helps,

Archiduc
I wonder how you came up with the "eggplant is never dipped in breadcrumbs" idea for Eggplant Parmesan.
I don't think I've ever seen a recipe that didn't call for breading the eggplant first. I have 6 Italian cookbooks and when I checked all of them from Lidia to Biba all say to bread the eggplant first. I haven't done this yet, but I'm willing to bet that if you google "eggplant parmesan" all of the recipes - okay most of the recipes will say bread them.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:25 PM   #15
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I wonder how you came up with the "eggplant is never dipped in breadcrumbs" idea for Eggplant Parmesan.
I don't think I've ever seen a recipe that didn't call for breading the eggplant first. I have 6 Italian cookbooks and when I checked all of them from Lidia to Biba all say to bread the eggplant first. I haven't done this yet, but I'm willing to bet that if you google "eggplant parmesan" all of the recipes - okay most of the recipes will say bread them.
Hi DramaQueen,

In which case we must agree to differ. I`ve yet to find a recipe which says to egg and breadcrumb and fry first before making Eggplant Parmesan or Melanzane di parmigiani.

Why not ask on the BBC Food Message board and see what they have to say!

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Old 11-25-2008, 05:51 PM   #16
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Hi Joel,

I appreciate that this is your first posting and welcome to DC.

However, in my experience, living on the other (European) side of the pond and having lots of Italian friends and relatives, when making Eggplant Pamigiana or Melanzane di Parmigiana, the eggplant/aubergine is never dipped in breadcrumbs and fried and used in this way in this dish.

The egg plant/aubergine is simply fried, with or without salting slices, washed, dried and then fried, or leaving slices in acidulated water (water and vinegar), washed and drained and then fried. Drain the slices after frying and they give up a lot of the oil.

The other two ingredients for the dish are first, freshly grated parmesan or Gran Padanno cheese and a good tomato sauce made using onions, garlic, tomatoes, touch of white wine (preferably) or red if you must! plus seasonings. The sauce need to be cooked until rich and unctuous.

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the base of an oven proof dish. Top with a layer of eggplant/aubergine. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a sprinkling of cheese and repeat, repeat, repeat! Finish with a layer of tomato sauce and top cheese and only at this point would one add any breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbling and brown.

One can make individual portions or a big dish to go with steaks, rib roast, roast chichen (really good with this) etc.

Hope this helps,

Archiduc
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:56 PM   #17
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I would flour or cornstarch, milk and then breadcrumbs. If not milk--can you get a non-vanilla plain soy milk? Almond milk, oatmeal milk, and vanilla soy are all too sweet and would ruin the dish.
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Old 01-01-2009, 01:45 PM   #18
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Ciao ragazzi!

The issue of "to breadcrumb" or "not to breadcrumb" before frying is a highly-debated one, and as evidenced by our posting participants, there are strong opinions on the subject. I believe the issue seems to be whether you are making the true "Melanzane alla Parmigiana", the true dish from Naples or whether you are making "Eggplant Parmesan", the dish found in America, now immortalized throughout the nation most probably having been born around the NY area in Italian-American kitchens.

I am with Archiduc on this one. Having worked as a chef in italian kitchens (outside the U.S.), I know that Melanzane alla Parmigiana calls for frying the eggplant slices with no breadcrumbs adhered to them. They are usually patted dry after having been salted/drained, sometimes lightly coated in flour (sometimes not), then dropped in the very hot oil, when cooked through (less than a minute), they are placed on absorbent paper to soak up excess oil so they can be later used in layering the dish.

In reference to DramaQueen's post of having referenced Italian cookbooks, there is no doubt indeed that the dish known as "Eggplant Parmesan" in America does call for the breadcrumb coating prior to frying and that is the dish we come to know here. Now, even though Lydia Mattichio Bastianich is an Italian woman and chef, she came to America and started her restaurants serving Italian-American cuisine in the NY area upon coming to this continent. In fact, her most popular selling cookbook is "Lydia's Italian-American Kitchen". These contain the "classics" that are known "on this side of the pond". Although I am not very sure about Biba Caggiano, I do believe her story is similar. And as for the other cookbooks, well, I dont know but I would be willing to bet they were published for the American market.

I am a cookbook collector myself and have referenced most of the better-known ones, and own a ton of them. So I took a peek at two just now. Marcella Hazan, an Italian chef, is well-regarded as the authority on english-written Italian cookbooks - the Julia Child of the cucina italiana, if you will. I just referenced the "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" and Mario Batali's "Molto Italiano" and both call for the non-breading procedure. Other authoritative true Italian chefs that come to mind are Ada Boni and Giuliano Bugialli, if you care to dig into Italian cuisine any further. On a side note, it is quite interesting to note that Lydia's son, Joe Bastianich, is actually Mario Batali's restaurant partner, together they own and operate "Babbo Ristorante".

I have elaborated on this thread because La Cucina Italiana is a subject that is dear to my heart, and any chance I get to further help people learn and appreciate it, I will take it! I hope this clarifies some of the confusion regarding this recipe. And don't get me started on "scampi" or "pepperoni"!!! Ciao!!
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:00 PM   #19
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Since this thread started I became curious to find the difference in taste between breaded and unbreaded eggplant in this dish. I prefer breaded because I like the added flavor of the browned bread crumbs, olive oil and the crunchiness of the eggplant. I don't use a lot of sauce or cheese so the eggplant flavor really shines. I thought the unbreaded dish was on the flat side. My opinion of course, others may feel differently.
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:03 PM   #20
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Regarding the original question this poster started... how to adhere breadcrumbs without using egg...

try a slurry solution of 1/4 cup of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water... stir it together... nuke it a few seconds in the microwave to boil (OK, I have seen the emails that say NEVER boil water in a microwave, but this is how I do it), and when you see the slurry mixture become clear and thick it is done. It will have a similar consistency to a beaten egg. Use it as your "eggwash" in the standard flour/egg/breadcrumb procedure.
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