From Celebrating the Midwestern Table By Amy Mandel 1 firm, slim medium eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices (about 4 cups or 20 24 slices) kosher salt 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened ½ cups minced fresh basil 1 cup soft bread crumbs ¾ tsp salt ¼ tsp cayenne pepper 2 large eggs Vegetable oil,
butter, or lard for frying Lightly salt eggplant slices with kosher salt and place in a colander with a heavy pot on top to weight them down. Let stand at least 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Mix cream cheese and basil in small bowl until smooth. Combine bread crumbs, salt and cayenne on a sheet of waxed paper. Crack eggs into a pie plate or shallow dish and froth with a fork. Spread eggplant slices with herbed cream cheese, using about 2 teaspoons on smaller slices and slightly more on larger ones. Make sandwiches with the slices. Dip sandwiches first in beaten eggs, then in crumbs until well coated. Heat oil to 1/8 inch depth in large skillet over medium heat. When very hot, fry sandwiches, in batches without crowding, until crisp and golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Serve warm (not hot). Sandwiches can be kept warm in preheated 225-degree oven while remaining sandwiches are cooked. These are nice with a thick tomato sauce.