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Moussaka

January 18, 2015

Moussaka is a rich, delicious layered Greek casserole. Variations of moussaka abound, but the recipe I was looking for had to have potatoes, eggplant, and ground lamb, which is Macedonian moussaka, according to my cookbook. I thought it would be best to make this for a crowd rather than for just two of us, so I saved it for a night when we were having people over.

I’m usually pretty optimistic about how long a dish will take to cook and I thought it would take maybe an hour or so to prep and get in the oven…it actually took me over 3 hours! (And then an hour of baking time.) So, dinner was a little late, but we all thought it was worth the wait when we tasted the moussaka. But just a word of warning — this is not a quick weeknight recipe. It is great served with rice pilaf and a Greek salad.

moussaka

2 lb. potatoes (about 4 medium/large)

1 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying eggplant

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, finely sliced

1 lb. ground lamb (ground beef will work too)

salt and pepper

3 lb. tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup white wine

1 lb. eggplant, sliced

chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan, Kefalotyri or Gruyere cheese

Bechamel sauce:

6 Tbsp butter

scant 2/3 cup flour

2 1/2 cups warm milk

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan, Kefalotyri or Gruyere cheese

2 egg yolks

Topping:

1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Kefalotyri or Gruyere cheese

1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

Scrub the potatoes and boil them unpeeled in salted water for 10 min. Peel and slice 1/4 inch thick and dry on paper towels. In a large frying pan, heat the 1 cup oil and fry the potatoes until golden on both sides (this will take several batches). Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sauté the onion in the same oil until softened. Add the garlic, then the lamb, tomatoes, some salt and pepper, the spices and wine. Simmer for 20 min, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Add the cheese and parsley.

Dredge the eggplant slices in flour and fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place a layer of fried potatoes on the bottom, followed by a layer of fried eggplant. Cover with half of the meat sauce, another layer of potatoes and eggplant, the rest of the meat sauce, and ending with potato then eggplant.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter. Remove from heat and gradually add the flour, stirring until well-blended. Return to the heat and add the warm milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Mix in the cheese and egg yolks. Spread over the pan of moussaka and top with the additional cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: Besides using ground beef (the grocery store was out of lamb), I doubled the potatoes from the original recipe because I didn’t have enough to make the three layers with only 1 pound. I would probably add a little more eggplant next time too, but I only bought one, so I couldn’t this time.

I would also try making the tomato sauce ahead of time and just frying the potatoes and eggplant simultaneously (in separate pans) right before layering, rather than starting the sauce after the potatoes were done. I think this would make it go a little faster.  But taste-wise, this recipe was exactly what I was looking for. I think you could also make the whole thing a day in advance and reheat it –the leftovers were just as delicious the next day.

moussaka

(Recipe adapted from Regional Greek Cooking by Dean and Catherine Karayanis)

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From → Main Dishes

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