If the very sight of an eggplant brings back memories of too many soggy, rubbery eggplant Parmesans, the problem might rest with the dredging technique used to create them. Whether you're prepping eggplant slices for the traditional cheesy casserole or to crisp up by themselves in the oven, how you dredge the slices -- meaning to coat with breading or another ingredient -- can elevate or sink the dish's quality. For best results, start with a flour dredge to prep the surface for its egg dipping, which in turn will help the breading adhere to each slice.
Prepare eggplant slices for dredging by slicing them into rounds that are about 1/2 inch thick. Salt the slices and place them in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. Pat the slices dry with paper towels.
Fill three shallow bowls with dredging material. Fill one bowl with lightly seasoned flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with breadcrumbs. If you are making eggplant Parmesan, mix breadcrumbs with grated cheese at a ratio of 8 parts breadcrumbs to 1 part cheese.
Drag an eggplant slice through the bowl of flour, turning once, so that it is coated on both sides. Remove the slice from the bowl and lightly shake it to remove excess flour.
Dip the eggplant slice into the bowl of beaten eggs, turning once, so that it is coated with the egg wash on both sides. Hold the eggplant slice over the bowl and lightly shake it so that the excess egg wash falls back into the bowl.
Set the eggplant slice in the breadcrumbs bowl and press down. Flip the eggplant slice and press down again.
Set the dredged eggplant slice on wax paper. Repeat with the remaining slices until all have been coated with the materials in all three bowls -- flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs.
For crispier eggplant slices, use panko-style breadcrumbs rather than traditional breadcrumbs. Panko is flaked rather than crumb-like, with a larger surface area, which leads to a crispier final product.
To make your eggplant dish healthier, use fewer eggs plus about 1 tablespoon of water for the dipping stage, and use whole-wheat panko for the breading stage.