I love the word ‘cutlet’, it has such a nice, comforting old-fashioned ring to it. The word is used here, I believe, to remind us that although the cutlet in question is actually made up of a vegetable (the aubergine) and not meat … it can serve as a main course just as well as meat. Owing to its pecorino cheese and egg wash content, this ‘cutlet’ certainly touts a good bit of protein and, most important of all, is a crispy delight for the palate as any FFF (fried food fanatic) can attest.
I hate grating cheese, as you know, and so cut up about half of the cheese and put it in the food processor to do the job for me. This is something I would never do when it comes to grating pecordino (or parmigiano) for pasta, as the cheese must be grated very finely by hand for that purpose.
Put the mechanically grated pecorino in a bowl and add about the same amount of bread crumbs (on the right in the photo). These are bread crumbs the Italian way: very finely crumbled as you can see, and not the coarse stuff one buys outside of Italy, although I am sure they would work too.
Add a pinch of salt (yes, I know pecorino is salty but you still need to add a bit of salt – aubergines just love their salt), and mix the pecorino and the bread crumbs together so that they combine intimately.
And now it’s time to get cracking:
Fry the cutlets, making sure the temperature of the oil stays hot, and turning the aubergines over once only. Drain and set aside. Sprinkle a little salt just before serving. Il fritto vuole il sale, we say in Italian. “Fried foods crave salt”.
I cut up some tomatoes to accompany the cutlets, adding a handful of capers too.
Well, most of the salad had been eaten by the time I took this photo …. it consisted of flat-leaf parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and (if you peak very closely on the left of the plate) a little bit of anchovy fillet. All very fresh, all very summery just like the aubergine – an iconic summer vegetable.