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Polpette Di Malanzane All'Agrigentina
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3 eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds each
1/2 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Italian Bread Crumbs
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup drained eggplant juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Serves 6 to 8
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Cut the stem end off each eggplant, then cut them in half lengthwise. Score the cut side of each half, being careful not to cut the skin. Thoroughly rub the salt over the cut sides of each eggplant half. Set the eggplant halves aside on paper towels, cut-side-down, and let them drain for about 20 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dry the eggplant halves and use 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to brush the tops and bottoms of the eggplants as well as the parchment paper on the baking sheets. Place the eggplants, cut-side-down, on the parchment paper and bake for 45-55 minutes, until they are completely cooked and dent easily when you poke the skin. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop out the roasted flesh and transfer to a colander with a bowl underneath. Let drain for 40 minutes, stirring once. Reserve 1 cup of the drained eggplant juices for the sauce.
Transfer the drained eggplanct flesh to a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, eggs cheese and mint. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors mature.
To prepare the fritters, shape the eggplant mixture into balls 1 1/2-inches in diameter. You should have approximately 35-40. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large, nonstick saute pan on high heat, add half the balls and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Wipe the pan clean, pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and repeat the process.
Place the warm eggplant fritters in a serving bowl and top with 2 cups of the Sauce.
Liquefy the tomoto sauce and eggplant juice in a food processor for 2 minutes. Strain the mixture through a wire mesh strainer into a saucepan,. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, add the sugar and mint, stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.
Frying the eggplant balls requires some technique, especially in turning. An excellent tool is a large wooden spoon. Using the edge of the pan as a support, turn the balls over by pushing upward and over with the concave part of the spoon. Remember, move gently, the fritters are very soft and they will break if you're too forceful.
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