Preparation Time: 1 hour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ham, small dice
2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
1/4 cup garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cups tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced in thin strips
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups chicken stock, bouillon or broth
1/4 cup white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese curls and chives for garnish
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 in slices
1 cup flour
4 whole eggs, beaten
2 cups seasoned panko bread crumbs
12 slices Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (Reggiano if available)
1/2 cup fresh basil Leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil for frying
1. Place two tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven size pot on medium heat along with the diced ham. Saute until ham is slightly browned. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and pepper flakes. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent but not brown.
2. Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar and last tablespoon of olive oil and stir pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and wine and cook for 10 more minutes. Place the pot in your sink and using a stick blender puree the mixture. Return back to stove and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Lightly salt eggplant on both side of each piece and place on a paper towel for 10 minutes. Set up breading station with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs each in separate bowls. Season each bowl lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper and mix.
4. Blot off moisture on eggplant with a dry paper towel. Dip each piece in flour (shake of excess). Then dip them in the eggs to thoroughly coat. Then place them in the breading and cover in bread crumbs and apply firm pressure with your hand to make the bread crumbs stick. Gently place on a plate. When all eggplant is done, refrigerate for 15 minutes prior to frying.
5. In a large frying pan, cook eggplant until brown on medium high heat in olive oil. Remove and place on paper towel to drain.
6. In a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, place one layer of eggplant. Top each with a mozzarella slice. Then place another eggplant slice on top with another slice of cheese. Pour 2 cups of the tomato sauce (or more if you like it loose) on top of eggplant stacks. Place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
7. Top each stack with a dollop of warm sauce, basil garnish and Parmesan cheese.