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Eggplant Cotijana
  • 1 medium eggplant cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 jar Molli Chicken Tinga simmer sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko* Japanese bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Cotija Cheese
  • 1/2 lb chilled fresh mozzarella not unsalted, thinly sliced
  1. Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes.
  2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Stir together flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow bowl, then stir together panko and 1/4 cup Queso Cotija in a third shallow bowl.
  4. Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, letting excess drip off, and dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.
  5. Heat 1 1/2 cups oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant 4 slices at a time, turning over once, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
  6. Spread 1/3 of Chicken Tinga simmer sauce in bottom of a square 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of chopped cilantro on top. Arrange about one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Cover eggplant with about one third of remaining sauce, one third of cilantro, and one third of mozzarella. Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, cilantro and mozzarella. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup grated Queso Cotija.

  7. Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.