add 10 minutes if oven baked – refer to tip in step 4
Place the flour in a bowl. In a separate bowl, place the breadcrumbs, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano. Toss to combine. Use a fork to lightly whisk the eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
Slice the eggplant (aubergine) into 5-8mm thick rounds – see note. Place the eggplant in pairs of a similar size on a clean work surface.
Arrange the ham and mozzarella on half the eggplant rounds. Top with the remaining eggplant rounds to create an eggplant, ham and mozzarella sandwich (Cordon bleu).
Place the Cordon bleu into the flour, turning to coat both sides of the eggplant and shaking off any excess. Dip both sides of the flour coated Cordon bleu into the egg mixture, then coat both sides in breadcrumbs. Place the Cordon bleu onto a plate or work surface. Repeat with the remaining Cordon bleu.
Pour enough sesame oil into a large frying pan to generously cover the base. Heat the frying pan over medium heat to reach a temperature of 180°C. The Cordon bleu are ready to fry when a pinch of breadcrumbs sizzle when dropped in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and cook the Cordon bleu ‘di melanzane’ (of eggplant/aubergine), in batches, until golden (approximately 2 minutes on each side). Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
Tip: Cordon bleu are also delicious when oven baked. For oven baked Cordon bleu di melanzane, preheat the oven to 200°C conventional oven/ 180°C fan-forced (400° Fahrenheit/Gas 6). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Pour enough sesame oil to generously cover the base of the paper-lined baking tray. Place the Cordon bleu into the baking tray with oil. Drizzle extra sesame oil on top and cook for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking – Buon appetito.
Note: In Italy, there are excellent varieties of melanzane (eggplant/aubergine) that are rounded and a vibrant purple colour such as ‘Rosa Bianca’, ‘Violetta di Firenze’, ‘Bianca Sfumata di Rosa’, and ‘Prosperosa’. These varieties have a more delicate flavour and are not bitter. In Australia, I choose Graffiti eggplant (also known as Sicilian eggplant) – they are less seedy and also not bitter. The Italian varieties above and Graffiti eggplant do not need to be salted and rinsed before cooking.
If you are using a black-skinned eggplant, however, you will need to salt the eggplant. To do this, slice the eggplant as per step 1, sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt and layer in a colander. Set aside for 20 minutes to maximum of 1 hour. Rinse under cold water, drain and use paper towel to pat dry.
500g eggplant (aubergine)|100g 00 flour (alternatively, use plain/all-purpose flour)|200g dried breadcrumbs|2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped|30g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated|250g ham, thinly sliced|250g mozzarella, thinly sliced|2 eggs|Sesame oil, for frying|Sea salt