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This Recipe for Eggplant, Bologna, and Mushroom Burnt Toast Shows the Beauty of a Good Char

To make Chef Edward Lee’s take on the classic bologna sandwich, burning is a must.

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A serving of eggplant, bologna, and mushroom burnt toast, served on a rustic wooden plate. YesChef

One of the first things you learn when you begin to cook is that burnt equals bad. The sight of a blackened slice of toast, too-crispy chicken, or bitter sugar is never a good thing if it happens by accident — and it can happen by accident in a split second. But what if you burned your ingredients on purpose? “There are so many [burnt] things in this world that we love: really charred grilled meats; bourbon, which uses burnt charred barrels,” chef Edward Lee says. “To me, the flavor of burnt is not necessarily a negative thing.”

Take, for example, Lee’s recipe for eggplant, bologna, and mushroom burnt toast, a dish he teaches in his class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs. No individual ingredient of the recipe is fully scorched, per se, but each is cooked until a “charred note” comes out. Roast a head of garlic until soft to make a garlic mayo; sear Japanese eggplants and slices of bologna in pecan oil to bring out some caramelization; and throw chanterelle mushrooms into the same pan to pick up all those flavorful juices. Think the eggplants are ready to come off the heat? Push them just a little further. You want that sweet char to come through.

“Probably the worst mistake you can make in the kitchen is to burn something, right?” Lee says. But with this upscale bologna sandwich, it’s a must. That “burnt” flavor is what adds complexity to the dish, lending more adult flavors to a favorite dish from Lee’s childhood. — Dayna Evans

Eggplant, Bologna, and Mushroom Burnt Toast

Serves 2


For the roasted garlic mayonnaise:

1 garlic head
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 ½ cups mayonnaise, such as Duke’s Mayonnaise
1 pinch ground black pepper

For the seared bologna, eggplant, and mushrooms:

1 Japanese eggplant
4 tablespoons pecan oil
Kosher salt to taste
2 thick slices of bologna per sandwich
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
3 ounces chanterelle mushrooms or oyster mushrooms
Black pepper
Sherry vinegar

For plating:

½ tablespoon unsalted butter
2 slices brioche bread
1 tablespoon roasted garlic mayonnaise
1 pinch flake salt
1 teaspoon pecan oil
Fresh parsley to garnish


For the roasted garlic mayonnaise:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: Place a halved garlic head on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Reassemble the garlic head before loosely wrapping it with foil.

Step 3: Place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until soft and golden brown.

Step 4: Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and add to a medium-size bowl and mash into a paste. Add mayonnaise and ground black pepper, and mix further.

For the seared bologna, eggplant, and mushrooms:

Step 1: Slice the eggplant lengthwise in half and score the cut side. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of pecan oil. Once it is absorbed, sprinkle with salt.

Step 2: Place a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of pecan oil and let it heat through. Transfer the eggplant to the skillet with the cut side facing down, gently press with a wooden spoon, and let it cook through and char for 10 to 12 minutes.

Step 3: Once nicely charred and softened, flip the eggplant and cook the skin side for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Step 4: While the eggplant is cooking, add both slices of bologna to the same skillet and cook until charred and golden on both sides, about 2 minutes for each side. Use an earthenware coaster or another tool to press down on the bologna to keep it from curling. Remove the eggplant and bologna from the pan and set them aside.

Step 5: Add ½ tablespoon butter to the hot pan. While it is still foaming, add the chanterelle mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt.

Step 6: Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mushrooms have picked up all of the charred flavors from the pan.

Step 7: Add the salt, black pepper, and sherry vinegar, then remove from the pan and serve.

For plating:

Step 1: Add ½ tablespoon butter to the same hot pan over medium-high heat. Top with a thick slice of brioche bread, and let it char and cook through for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Optional: While the toast is still in the pan, slather 1 tablespoon garlic mayonnaise on the bread’s face-up side, then flip and let the bread char through for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown.

Step 2: Transfer the toast to a decorative plate.

Step 3: Spread an additional 1 tablespoon garlic mayonnaise on the other side of brioche and top with a slice of charred bologna.

Step 4: Slice the charred eggplant crosswise in half-inch slices.

Step 5: Top the bologna with eggplant pieces and chanterelle mushrooms. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves, a drizzle of pecan oil, and a pinch of flakey salt. Repeat Steps 1-5 with the second piece of bread.

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