So I've made three batches of eggplant parmesan using three different methods of cooking the eggplant, and I count all three as fails. What I want is a method that cooks the eggplant so it's still firm and meaty - so that it could almost be mistaken for meat in texture - but not dry and leathery. I can't seem to get the texture right - it's either too dry or too soggy.
In all three methods I cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, crumbed the eggplant slices and, after cooking them in various ways, layered and baked it for 30 minutes with the marinara sauce.
First batch I baked the eggplant instead of frying - I salted the eggplant for 30 minutes first, then crumbed them, then baked for 30 minutes turning halfway, then added the sauce/cheese etc and baked. The eggplant tasted nice but was too soggy.
Second batch I didn't salt the eggplant first as I was in a hurry. Breaded the slices then fried in a very small amount of oil - just sprayed the pan basically. The texture was closest to what I want but still a bit leathery, and the eggplant tasted bitter.
Third batch i salted first, crumbed then fried in a much larger amount of oil - about 1/2 inch deep in a wide skillet. I'm pretty sure the oil was hot enough. Cooked the slices until they were golden brown - about 1-2 minutes each side. Then layered and baked as usual. This one was a total disaster, the slices had basically disintegrated - way too sloppy.
I'm struggling to know what I'm doing wrong. The only thing i can think of with the last method - which is basically the standard method - was that I ran out of paper towels so that I didn't drain the fried slices of the oil before laying them, at least not as much as I'd like. Could this have made all the difference?
I read about another method, that involves salting/pressing the slices while pre-cooking them in an oven for 30 minutes, or a microwave for 3 minutes, then frying as per usual. I'm thinking of doing this plus the "minimum oil" flying method.
Any other ideas what I could try? Also, once I have the recipe sorted out I want to make a big batch so I can freeze and re-heat it (unbaked), so I need to take that into account.