Eggplant Parmesan Hero

1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
kosher salt, as needed, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour for dredging
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
oil for deep frying
four 7-inch long hero rolls, split
about 3 cups Quick Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
16 slices provolone cheese (about 1/2 pound)
Quick Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
sprig of fresh thyme
sprig of fresh basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the eggplant in half crosswise. Then cut each half lengthwise into 1/2 inch-thick slices (about 16 slices). Arrange the eggplant slices on several baking sheets and sprinkle generously all over with kosher salt. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant, about 1 hour.

Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink, and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer eggplant to a work surface and blot very dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and season with pepper to taste.

Place the flour in a medium lipped plate or bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Dredge an eggplant slice in the flour, then dip it in the egg, and finally dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture. Shake off any excess breading and transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

In a large straight-sided skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 400 degrees F on a deep frying thermometer. (The oil must be heated to 400 degrees F. since when the breaded eggplant is added it drops the temperature to the proper frying temperature of 375 degrees F.)

Working in small batches, fry the eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. The eggplant can be fried up to 2 hours before serving.

When ready to serve preheat the broiler. Arrange the hero rolls, split-side up, on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler.

Cover each roll with about 4 slices of eggplant, overlapping them slightly. Cover each of the eggplant heroes with about 3/4-cup of the sauce, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan, and cover with 4 slices of the provolone. Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Close the hero rolls and slice in half crosswise. Serve immediately.

Quick Marinara Sauce
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper to taste. Use now, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.



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