Goat Cheese and-Eggplant Crisps

4 or 5 medium Asian eggplants
freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped Greek olives
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
6 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1. Trim ends from eggplants and cut lengthwise into 24 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant in single layer and cook until tender and golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining olive oil and eggplant.

2. Blend goat cheese and olives in small bowl. Place 1 heaping teaspoon in center of each eggplant strip. Wrap eggplant around cheese to enclose it completely.

3. Heat 3 inches vegetable oil in a heavy, deep saucepan over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees F on a frying thermometer.

4. Meanwhile, place flour in shallow bowl, egg in another shallow bowl, and bread crumbs in a third. Dip each eggplant package in flour, shaking off excess, then in egg and bread crumbs.

5. Fry eggplant packages a few at a time, turning, until golden on all sides, about 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot. Makes 2 dozen crisps.

6. Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare and fry eggplant crisps. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Reheat on cookie sheet in 375 degrees F oven 10 minutes.

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