Playing Bobby Flay's Baked Eggs with Eggplant Bolognese, Ricotta, Parmesan and Basil

For Rachael’s 50th birthday bash episode, Rach stepped out from behind the stove to let her buddies do the cooking. And since Rachael’s always cooking brunch, Bobby decided to cook her brunch for a change, Italian-style!

The eggplant bolognese can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Ingredients
For the Eggplant Bolognese:
  • 6 baby eggplant
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, , divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Spanish onion, , finely diced
  • 1 carrot, , peeled and finely diced
  • 1 mall stalk celery, , finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, , finely chopped to a paste
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile flakes, , to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, , plus 1 (15-ounce) can plum tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
For the Calabrian Chile Oil:
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Calabrian long chiles, , drained and chopped
  • Salt
To assemble the recipe:
  • Eggplant Bolognese
  • 6 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, , plus a wedge for shaving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, , plus more for garnish
  • Calabrian Chile Oil
  • Sliced ciabatta, grilled or toasted, brushed with EVOO, and seasoned with salt and pepper
Preparation

1. For the Eggplant Bolognese: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Peel eggplant skin in 1-inch sections so that half of the skin is removed. Slice each eggplant crosswise into ½-rounds, and then cut each round into ½-inch dice.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add half of the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until the eggplant becomes soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a sheet pan in an even layer. Repeat with another 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining eggplant.

3. Transfer eggplant to the oven and roast, turning once, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack.

4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds longer. Stir in the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ½ cup water and sugar, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook until tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the tomatoes and let cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes more. Fold cooled eggplant into the sauce along with the basil and oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. For the Calabrian Chile Oil: Combine olive oil, chiles and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt in a blender and process for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl.

6. To assemble the recipe: Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Transfer the eggplant bolognese to a large high-sided sauté pan and bring to a simmer. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.

8. Remove pan from the oven, dollop the cheese mixture on top of the eggs, drizzle with the calabrian chile oil and garnish with more basil and shaved parmigiano. Serve with the toasted ciabatta.