Savory Eggplant Croquettes

This week kicks my seasonal baking plans into high gear. Between now and Saturday, I have 2 birthdays, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, not to mention the baked goods I'll be preparing for actual gifts. I just went to the store and stocked up on a dozen eggs, heavy cream, whole milk - my fridge is brimming with the promise of dessert, and I'm ready to go. However, it's around this time of year that I also start gravitating toward healthier main dishes. I figured I might not be the only one, so here's a little vegetarian meal that I found on Closet Cooking and had to try: eggplant croquettes. I made some mistakes with it, but am overall pleased enough with the result to give them another shot. That is, when I get around to repeating the recipe...

My biggest mistake was that I made fairly enormous patties out of the eggplant mixture, meaning the outside started to burn before the inside transformed from mush to delicious croquette texture (not that I have any idea what that is supposed to be, other than not what mine turned out to be). If you make a greater quantity of thinner patties, I think you'll have a much more appealing end product. As they were, thick and not fully cooked (which, by the way, is not unsafe in terms of this recipe), I still enjoyed them. I served them over a bed of spinach, drizzled with some honey mustard marinade I had made for another recipe that week. The original recipe calls for a red pepper and tomato topping, which I can imagine would taste delicious (think eggplant parm, but better), and I'll definitely be trying that out the next time around. The only other comment I have is that I thought, even for a sauteed croquette, these called for a high amount of oil. I decreased it a little and found it to be too much, but perhaps that has to do with the fact that I had a lesser quantity of thicker patties, and if I had had twice the amount of patties taking up space in the pan, I would need the extra oil. Just something to keep in mind.

Disregarding the unfortunate texture mine had in the center (which my taste buds easily forgave), these croquettes are savory and bursting with flavors, underscored by a mild saltiness from the cheese (and if you add more salt). The honey mustard drizzling that I added created a sweet contrast, and I would imagine that a red pepper or marinara could do the same, or add a little element of heat, which would be equally nice. Despite being pan fried, these don't feel heavy (particularly if you don't make monstrous patties as I did, or so I would imagine), but serving them with something simple like a salad is an appropriate balance nonetheless. I will definitely be making these again, and encourage you to try them out as well.

Eggplant Croquettes, courtesy of Closet Cooking
Yield: 2-3 servings (about 6 normal-sized croquettes)

The Ingredients
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4" slices
1/4C + 1C bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic (I used about 2tsp. minced)
1/4C parmigiano reggiano (yes, I use the cheap stuff in a can, though likely not for much longer)
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. oil

The Method
Broil the eggplant, 7 minutes per side, until slightly golden-brown in color. Allow the slices to cool before removing the skin (although they more or less peeled right off, I found it easier to cut around some of them to do this).

Place the eggplant, 1/4C breadcrumbs, garlic, parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper into a food processor, mixing until chopped and combined. Grab a handful and form it into a patty, taking it and dipping it first into the egg mixture and then into the remaining 1C of breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a medium pan and sautee the patties, roughly 1-3 minutes per side, until golden brown all over. Repeat as necessary to use up the mixture, then serve topped with a red pepper or marinara sauce, the recipes of which can be found on the original post; since I didn't use them, I'll just direct you to the above link. Alternatively, you could use a honey mustard topping as I did, which I very much enjoyed, despite its non-traditional elements - this was just a ratio of 2:1 of coarse-ground mustard and honey, whisked together.

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