Today, my friend and fellow blogger Victor of Random Cuisine celebrates his blog’s second anniversary. Happy blogaversary, Victor, keep up the good work and the good cooking!
For this occasion, Victor asked some of us to take part in a very unique challenge: to make our own version of KFC’s infamous Double Down. This much talked-about breadless sandwich consists in two fried chicken filets, surrounding a filling of bacon, two kinds of cheeses, and “secret sauce.” While not quite as humongous as Friendly’s Grilled Cheese Burger Melt (a burger in which the bun has been replaced by two grilled cheese sandwiches), the Double Down is still an impressive piece of decadence.
My first thought after agreeing to take on Victor’s challenge was “How on Earth am I going to make this nutritionally acceptable?” I love me some fried food, but something about eating two stacked fried filets makes my stomach quiver in fear (oddly enough, this does not apply to burgers, as I’ve eaten my share of Bic Macs). So, I tried to think of something that could be stacked, and that wasn’t bread – because, of course, that would just result in a sandwich, and would defeat the purpose.
I finally stumbled on an idea while flipping through Stefano Faita’s Entre Cuisine et Quincaillerie: the Sicilian sandwich. Two thick slices of eggplant, breaded and grilled (or fried), and sandwiched around a slice of prosciutto and melted cheese. It sounded like a worthy Double Down substitute.
I followed the principle of the Double Down and used two different kinds of cheese: parmesan and smoked cacciocavallo. I replaced the bacon with crispy pancetta, and my “secret sauce” was a basil coulis. It was a pretty good combination, and very satisfying.
Thanks for the challenge, Victor, and congrats!
Adapted from Stefano Faita’s Entre Cuisine et Quincaillerie
One large eggplant
6 slices of pancetta
Two slices of smoked cacciocavallo cheese
A few shards of parmesan cheese
A big handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Make the coulis: Put the basil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until finely shredded. Gradually pour in olive oil, until you obtain a smooth, liquid sauce. Set aside.
Cut four 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices into the eggplant. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil, then coat them in bread crumbs. Heat some more oil in a pan over high heat, and fry the eggplant slices until cooked through and browned on both sides. Remove from heat and reserve.
Fry the pancetta in a pan over high heat, until crispy. Remove from heat and reserve.
Divide the parmesan, cacciocavallo and pancetta in two and place them over two eggplant slices. Drizzle with basil coulis, and complete the sandwiches with the remaining eggplant slices. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until cheese is melted. Drizzle more basil coulis, and serve immediately.