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Eggplant, Bologna & Mushroom Burnt Toast

Edward Lee

Lesson time 20 min

Edward teaches how to utilize one of his signature flavors: Burnt. Discover the gentle balance of burning without charring, as you learn how to master the Maillard reaction and release deliciousness from the simplest ingredients. Recreate Edward’s his favorite childhood sandwich and learn how to sear and caramelize as you elevate the gentle flavors of eggplant, mushroom and bologna, along with roasting garlic to enhance mayonnaise.

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Preview

– When I was a young cook, I had a habit of burning things and so today’s recipe is basically based on a mistake I used to make, which is, I used to always burn toast. So I wanna teach you something about burning. Probably the worst mistake you can make in the kitchen is to burn something, right? It’s inedible, you gotta throw it away, you gotta start over again. I’ve always that sort of in the back of my head, don’t burn things, don’t burn things, don’t burn things and the more I got to sort of experimenting in my own kitchen and coming up with my own food, I realized, “I really like the taste of burnt things.” There’s a certain point you can’t go past or it really becomes carbon and it becomes inedible, but there’s so many things in this world that we love. You know, really charred, grilled meats, bourbon, which uses burnt, charred barrels. To me, the flavor of burnt is not necessarily a negative thing and so I think there’s a way to control burning so that you get the flavors of char but you’re not going over. So my recipe today is basically just called Burnt Toast and what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna create the flavors of burnt on top of a fancy toast. So, what I’m gonna start with is roasted garlic mayo. Very simple, take a sheet of aluminum foil. I’m gonna split this garlic in half. Little bit of olive oil. Little bit of salt. All right, and really, you just kind bundle it up, place it in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, as long as it takes for the garlic to get really soft and a little caramelized. I got this little guy, it’s been cooking for a little bit, beautiful. It’s a good sign when you see a little burnt top. That’s some nice caramelization. It’s really soft. It takes on a completely different flavor and smell when garlic gets roasted. I’m just gonna make a little mayonnaise out of it. This garlic is one of the best things in the world. You can use this garlic in your vegetable sauté. You can just actually eat it right out of the oven like that, it’s so good. It’s great for making any kind of condiments, purées, so many uses for it. You can see once it’s roasted, it literally scoops out of its little pockets perfectly and you don’t get any of the skins. When that garlic starts to roast and caramelize, it takes on such a beautiful, different flavor than raw garlic or sautéed garlic. It gets a lot sweeter, becomes much, much nuttier. Perfect, and the cool thing about this garlic now, it’s so soft you can literally just smash it with the back of a spoon, see that. And you literally have a roasted garlic paste. See how simple that is? To this, I’m going to just add couple of big spoonfuls of mayonnaise. Okay, I’ll throw a little pinch of black pepper in there. Beautiful, and there you’ve got it. Roasted garlic mayonnaise. I pretty much grew up on bologna sandwiches as a kid so I have this, just a real like, love and affection for bologna. One of the favorite things I used to eat as a kid was fried bologna sandwiches. There’s nothing better and even now, I still love ’em. I’m gonna start with this idea of fried bologna but I wanna sort of make something a little bit more complex. So I’m also gonna use a Japanese eggplant. So Japanese eggplant, unlike the big bulb eggplant that you’re used to, obviously it’s a little thinner. It’s a little more flavorful. It’s not as bitter as you would find in a larger eggplant. What I’m gonna do here is cut it in half. So we’re gonna roast both the eggplant and the fried bologna at the same time. One of the things that I’m gonna do is I’m actually gonna take my knife and I’m going to make little slits in there. Just go down the line and you see really just using like an eighth of an inch of the point of my knife and just making straight little slits in there. That’s gonna allow the heat to penetrate through. I’m gonna do it to my other guy here too. As much as possible, try not to cut the skin. Just go inside with the point of your knife. If you go a little bit deeper, it’s not the end of the world. All right, now I wanna introduce you to a wonderful oil that I like to use. When I’m reaching for a dish where I just want deeper flavors, this is a pecan oil. It comes out of Georgia and it’s one of my favorite oils. Basically, I’m just gonna spoon a little bit over the top and just coat the eggplant with it and you’ll see the eggplant is gonna absorb a ton of oil. Just literally look at that. It just soaks right in there, all right? Got some salt, goes right on top of there. All right, and I think we’re ready to go burn something. So get your pan nice and hot. I’m gonna spread a little bit more of that pecan oil in the bottom of this pan. Give it a minute to get that oil hot. I start with my eggplant. I’m gonna put this over to one side. I’m just gonna leave that there undisturbed. Give it a little bit of a press so it starts to stick to the pan. I wanna create a sear. I wanna create some caramelization. I wanna create some char. So the most important thing is not to move the eggplant. Once it hits that bottom of the pan, let chemistry do its thing. There’s a delicate balance between giving a char and going too far and I think you wanna smell a charred note. You’ll start to notice here too, the color of that eggplant skin starts to change, and so you can kind of know when to flip when that discoloration kinda creeps up almost to the top of the eggplant. I’m gonna take a quick peek here. Look at that, that’s really gettin’ there but some would say that’s done but I wanna keep going a little bit further. I kinda wanna see the entire surface of that eggplant get charred. And I’ll just vent that just for a few. If you give the eggplant a little squeeze with the back of a spoon, what’s happening is it’s starting to release more and more liquid. So you’ll hear a nice sizzle and that’s just helping it along ’cause you also want to soften up the inner core of the eggplant. Keep checking it, there we go, look at that color now. We’re really, really close. All right, we’re gonna check it one last time. That’s perfect, so at this point, I’m gonna flip over my eggplant. I’m gonna let the skin side cook a little. I’ve got my burnt surface there which is beautiful. Now, I’m gonna add some bologna. Pan is screaming hot so it’s gonna be a perfect time to add my bologna. You know, so a lot of cooking is about semantics and names. There’s really a fine line between caramelization and charred and burnt. All these are different words that sort of express a similar thing which is A, it’s a Maillard Reaction so you’re creating a burn, a char. You’re wanting that beautiful texture and flavor that comes from heat and that comes from sugars caramelizing, but the best way to achieve that is through really hot heat and you’re gonna see the bologna’s gonna start to bubble up there. So you just want to push it down with the back of your spoon. Little trick too, if you have some coasters, gonna put it right over the bologna, just keep that flat. You see with the eggplant too, all the juices are bubbling to the surface. It’s a beautiful thing and the center should be really tender by now. The other thing that’s happening too is all this fat from the bologna is getting released into the pan and guess who’s picking it up? Mr. Eggplant here. There we go, a little bit more. You know, so many of these childhood foods that we grew up with, they kinda get lost in this sort of foodie moment that we’re having and we don’t eat things like bologna sandwiches anymore. We don’t appreciate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches anymore and to me, that’s sad, because there’s still a place for them in our cuisine and there’s a place in Louisville called Wagner’s Pharmacy. The make a mean bologna sandwich and it’s some place I like to go every now and then and just, you know, get lost in that nostalgia for a bologna sandwich. Getting some beautiful char here on the bologna. Look at that, beautiful. Now the eggplant is done so I’m going to lift it up, get it onto a plate. Let that cool down a little bit. Now, while that’s searing, I’m gonna do one last element. You’ve got sort of the charred eggplant flavors in there and of course, you’ve got this fat from the bologna. It’s really coating the bottom of this pan right now. After I take the bologna out, I’m not gonna turn the heat off. I’m gonna quickly just slice these chanterelles. If chanterelles aren’t available, you can use oyster mushrooms or black trumpet mushrooms, any variety of wild mushrooms will do nicely here, perfect. Now watch what I do here. Bologna’s perfectly fried. They come out of the pan, that cools down. I’m gonna go pretty quickly with this now. We’re gonna start with a nice pat of butter. Remember, this pan is screaming hot. Let that foam up. And then real quick, while it’s still foamy, I’m gonna add these chanterelle mushrooms, right to the pan. Let that just toast and now it’s gonna toast and it’s picking up some of these flavors from the bologna and the eggplant. A light pinch of salt. A hint of pepper. And this is gonna happen so fast. This is like less than a minute. Toss these mushrooms in the pan. You don’t wanna overcook these mushrooms. You really just want to get a little bit of color on the outside. They’re almost absorbing all that bologna fat right in your pan. Here’s what I’m gonna do right at the end, turn your heat off. Find your nice jar of sherry vinegar and we’re gonna do something that we call a deglaze, which means when I add liquid to a hot pan, it’s almost gonna pick up all the flavors from the bottom of that pan and it’s gonna right into that mushroom. Beautiful, beautiful. All right, and that’s ready to come right out of the pan. See how fast that was? Perfect, beautiful colors. I’m gonna put this aside now and we’re gonna start building our sandwich. A nice slice of brioche bread, one more slice of butter. This, I’m gonna let the butter toast the first side and then I’m going to do a little bit of mayonnaise on the other side. All right, so I think that first side is toasted. What I’m actually gonna do is, I’m gonna take this toast, I’m gonna flip it and I’m actually gonna cook it on the mayonnaise side. This may seem a little funny to you but if you think about it, mayonnaise is really an emulsion of oil and eggs, so all I’m doing really is cooking this is oil and a little bit of egg. All right, I’m gonna get my plate ready. Now, I am not going to burn this piece of toast ’cause I’ve got my other components that have the char on it. See, perfect, turn my heat off. All right, all right so all that’s left to do is really build my sandwich. Nice dollop of my garlic mayonnaise. And I’m gonna do a nice little slice of the eggplant. Let’s start with our bologna and I’m gonna drop the eggplant right on top of there. Then our chanterelle mushrooms. Then I’m gonna finish with little bit of parsley. Just a little bit. All right, and then I’m going to drizzle, over the whole things, just a tiny bit of that pecan oil just to finish the whole thing. It’s gonna give everything a beautiful, nutty flavor. Just a touch of flaky salt just on top. That is my idea of a perfect sandwich, fried bologna.

About the Instructor

James Beard Award winning writer and best-selling cookbook author Edward Lee takes viewers from the farm to his restaurants and home in Louisville, Kentucky and teaches lessons on his beloved dishes including Fried Chicken with Gochujang Sauce, Oysters and Grits, Cabbage-Steamed Fish, and more.

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