Eggplant with mozzarella, basil, and tomato is one of my favorite flavor combinations. In this dish, veal scaloppine are added to make a luxurious dish that is worth of a special occasion. I’ve blogged about this dish before, but back then my presentation was not as nice and I did not use sous vide to make the meat more tender. You can also make this with pork, turkey, or chicken instead of veal, and sous vide is not required. It just helps to make sure the meat is tender. The scaloppine are so thin that after sous vide cooking, they need to be chilled before you can sear them. Otherwise, they would end up overcooked.
8 veal scaloppine of 50 grams each (or 4 of 100 grams each, that you will cut in half)
250 grams (.55 lb) mozzarella, preferably buffalo
1 can (400 grams/14 oz) peeled tomatoes
20 leaves fresh basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, thickly sliced
parmigiano reggiano cheese
The scaloppine should be very thin, about 3 millimeters (1/8 inch). If necessary you can flatten them by putting them between two sheets of plastic wrap, and pounding them with a rubber hammer. Pay attention that the force should be directed slightly sidewards and not just downwards.
The scaloppine should have about the shape and size of a lengthwise slice of eggplant. The scaloppine are so thin, that it makes sense to stack them to cook them sous vide, as otherwise a very large bag (or several bags) would be needed. To make it easier to separate the stack into individual slices after cooking, lightly brush the slices of veal with olive oil on one side before vacuum sealing. Season the veal with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides (but moderately, as the slices are so thin).
Stack the scaloppine and vacuum seal them.
Cook the veal sous vide for 2 hours at 55C/131F. For tough meat, more time may be needed.
Chill the veal after sous vide cooking in ice water, and store the bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to finish and serve the dish.
In the meantime, roast the eggplant. Cut both ends off the eggplants and cut off a thin slice on two sides lengthwise to remove the skin and straighten the sides.
Then cut the eggplant into 4 slices of equal thickness lengthwise.
Thus you will obtain 4 slices of equal thickness and skin on the sides only from each eggplant, or 8 slices altogether.
Place the slices of eggplant on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
Allow the salt to draw out the juices for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 225C/440F.
Pat the eggplant dry with kitchen paper.
Line a baking sheet with oven paper. Brush the eggplant lightly with olive oil on all sides.
Roast the eggplant in the oven at 225C/440F. Turn the slices after 15 minutes, and continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until the eggplant is golden on both sides.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Place the garlic slices in the oil and tilt the pan when the oil is hot, to allow the garlic to be fried gently in the olive oil. The oil will be infused with the garlic. Remove and discard the garlic as soon as it is golden brown.
Puree a can of peeled tomatoes in a food processor or blender, and add the pureed tomatoes to the garlic-infused oil in the frying pan.
Bring the tomatoes to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
Allow the tomatoes to simmer until the sauce is no longer watery, 15 to 30 minutes. Then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
As soon as the tomato sauce, the eggplant, and the veal are all ready, you can finish the dish. If you want, you can prepare everything up to this point in advance and store everything in the refrigerator. If you’ve done that, gently reheat the tomato sauce before continuing.
Preheat the broiler.
Take the veal out of the sous vide bag, separate the slices, and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over high heat and briefly sear the veal on both sides over high heat (maximum 30 seconds per side).
Allow any excess oil to drain by placing the veal on kitchen paper.
Pour surplus oil out of the frying pan, but do not clean the pan.
Add the tomato sauce to the pan with veal drippings, and scrape with a wooden spatula to get all the flavor into the sauce.
Place two fresh basil leaves on each slice of eggplant.
Then place a slice of veal on each slice of eggplant.
Roll up the eggplant with veal, and place the rolls on a wire rack lined with aluminum foil. Place 1/8 of the mozzarella on each roll. Season the mozzarella lightly with salt.
Place the rolls under the broiler until the mozzarella has melted and is slightly golden, and the rolls have warmed through. The rolls should be positioned close enough to the broiling element to melt the cheese before the meat is overcooked.
Put a quarter of the tomato sauce on each preheated plate, and place two rolls on each plate. Garnish with another fresh basil leave and slivers of parmigiano reggiano.
This is great with a medium-bodied Sangiovese from Italy such as Chianti Classico or Sangiovese di Romagna.