Each spring when I plant my eggplants, my family and I wait in anticipation for the first harvest. No one ever has to ask me how I am going to cook them. The first eggplants of the season always become eggplant fries. After a long hot summer, my eggplants weren’t producing much anymore. However, I didn’t pull the plants out of the garden. Now that it’s autumn, I have begun harvesting eggplants again and my family and I were all in agreement that it was time for eggplant fries.
First, prep the eggplant: Refer to my “What’s in the garden? Eggplant” post for more details. Wash them in cool water and allow them to dry. Peel the eggplants with a small paring knife or potato peeler. Slice the eggplant into thin strips similar to french fried potatoes. Place the sliced eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt to help remove bitterness. Let the eggplant rest while you prepare the batter. You will notice beads of water rolling off the eggplant and falling into the colander, so make sure that you place the colander in a bowl or the sink to avoid a mess on your counter.
*Prepare the batter by mixing:
¼ cup of milk
*Prepare the coating by mixing the following and placing into a resealable bag or container with a lid:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
One of the changes I have made in my pantry is that I no longer buy flour or cornmeal. I grind my own. Once I compared the smell of fresh ground flour to the flour I that had sitting on the shelf in my cabinet, I no longer bought flour or cornmeal. I grind it fresh each time I need it. In future posts I will share that journey.
*Rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry.
*Place a handful of eggplant fries into the egg and milk batter.
*Remove from the batter and place them into a container with the coating mix.
*Place the lid on the container and shake until the eggplant is evenly coated.
*Remove coated eggplant and place on a clean plate.
*Pour 1 ½ cups of oil into a black iron skillet or frying pan and turn the stove on high. If you use a thermometer, you can begin frying when the temperature is at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t have a thermometer, so after a couple of minutes, I test to see if the oil is hot by placing one of the coated eggplant fries into the oil. If it begins to sizzle, it is usually hot enough, so I add more eggplant until there is a single layer in the pan. Do not put too many at one time or they will not get as crunchy. When the eggplant browns on one side, flip them over and allow them to brown on the other side and then remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all are cooked. Then enjoy!