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Puerto Rican Eggplant Casserole

Eggplant Casserole on a white plate over an orange cloth napkin

Crispy, savory, and cheesy eggplant casserole with a Puerto Rican twist.

Ingredients

Scale

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 pound of lean ground beef

24 ounces of pre-sliced mushrooms

1 large tomato, see note 1

1 can diced tomatoes, see note 1

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce, see note 1

12 green pimento stuffed olives, optional, this is what makes this dish more Puerto Rican, to me.

1/4 of red wine, your choice, optional. I use whatever I have open. 

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of sofrito

1 large eggplant

Flour to coat the eggplants

4 eggs

1/4 cup of milk, heavy cream, or water (for eggwash)

Breadcrumbs or panko crumbs to cover the eggplant

3/4 cup of peanut oil (I use peanut but feel free to use any oil with a high smoke point that will be good for frying)

1/4 pound of Swiss cheese, sliced very thin

Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into 1/4-inch rounds.  Place the eggplant onto a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.  This will draw the moisture out of the eggplant, preventing it from getting a watery casserole.
  2. While the eggplants moisture is being drawn out, in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil.  Sauté the onions over low heat until tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the sliced garlic and continue stirring.  Once the garlic has softened, add the button mushrooms. Turn the heat to high and stir constantly.  Cook the mushrooms until they have rendered all their liquids and the fluids have dried out in the pan.  
  4. Add ground beef.  Continue to stir constantly until the meat loses all the red color.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, and stir.  Once the tomatoes begin to cook, add tomato sauce and red wine—Cook at moderate heat for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  6. Dab the eggplants with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture.
  7. Using three plates or bowls, create a breading station as follows; one bowl with flour, one egg, milk (or water or heavy cream) mixture, and the third bowl with breadcrumbs or panko.  Season each bowl with salt and pepper.
  8. In a frying pan, heat peanut oil.  While oil heats up, begin breading the eggplant: dust with flour, then move to eggs, and finally dust with breadcrumbs. see note 2.  Fry each eggplant slice over moderate heat for about 3 minutes or until golden on each side.  Set fried eggplants aside.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a broiler proof baking pan, arrange layers of eggplant and meat.  Start with filling the bottom with sauce to cover.  Place eggplants to cover the bottom of the casserole. Place another layer of meat sauce, followed by swiss cheese. Continue alternating eggplant, meat sauce, and swiss cheese until the pan is full or the product has run out.  Top casserole with swiss cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  Switch oven from bake to broil and broil casserole until cheese browns lightly.

Equipment

Notes

  1. Marinara Sauce could be used instead of the tomato and the tomato sauce. 
  2. When working on a breading station, keep one hand for dry ingredients and one hand for wet.  For example, with the right-hand, dust the product with flour and transfer the product to the egg wash, but do not let your hand touch the egg wash.  With the left-hand, dip the product into the egg wash and transfer it to the breadcrumbs; try not to touch the breadcrumbs when doing this.  Then finally, with your left hand, cover the product with breadcrumbs and place the product in the frying pan.

Keywords: Eggplant casserole

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