Do they like moussaka? I recently made dinner for my Dad's birthday and found recipes for all his favourites food/dishes. My Mom and I really don't care for moussaka (and never order it in restaurants), but after trying this recipe, we were both completely converted to moussaka lovers. It is really quite amazing. The recipe is a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort.
Here is my picture of the finished product:
Check out the www.tigersandstrawberries.com blog, where I got the recipe, to see their pictures and personal comments.
For the Meat and Tomato Filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly (about four cups)
1 tablespoon fresh ripe (red) Hungarian hot wax pepper, minced
1/2 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, stemmed and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced (about three tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pound ground lamb
3/4-1 cup milk
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (about 3-4 cups chopped tomato)
1 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste (the kind that comes in a tube)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Greek basil (mine is Greek columnar basil–or you can use 1 tablespoon regular basil) minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Add onions, Hungarian hot pepper, and Aleppo or black pepper. Sprinkle salt over the onions, and cook, stirring, until onions are golden. Add rosemary, garlic, oregano, cinnamon and cloves, and cook until very fragrant–about three more minutes. Add lamb, and milk, and cook, stirring, until lamb browns and falls apart, and most of the milk is cooked away.
Add tomatoes, red wine, and tomato paste, and turn down heat. Cook uncovered until the tomatoes have broken down and incorporated into the meat and most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep lightly warm. Just before using to layer the moussaka, mix in the rest of the freshly minced herbs.
For the Eggplant and Potatoes:
6-8 small Asian eggplants, well washed and dried
2 russet potatoes, peeled
Without peeling eggplants, cut them into thin rounds or ovals, about 1/4″ thick.
Heat enough olive oil in saute pan to cover bottom thinly. When it is hot, add a single layer of eggplant slices. Do not crowd pan. Beware–they will sputter and pop. (I used a splatter shield to keep the stove top and myself clean.) Allow to cook until golden on one side–about two minutes, then turn, and cook one minute more–until golden–on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat as necessary until all eggplant is fried, adding to olive oil in pan as necessary.
Cut potatoes in half longways, and then cut into 1/4″ thick slices.
Bring salted water to boil, and add potatoes. Cook until they are almost tender, but still a bit crisp–about eight to ten minutes. Drain carefully.
For the Bechamel:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups warmed milk
pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks, well beaten, in a bowl bigger than you think you need
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and either black pepper or Aleppp pepper to taste
In a medium, heavy-bottomed, saucepan, melt butter.
Add flour, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, for about three minutes, until it forms a light tan paste (roux) that smells slightly nutty.
Add warmed milk, whisking continually. Bring to a simmer, whisking like mad.
Add nutmeg, and allow to simmer to thicken.
Add cream, and whisk like mad, and allow to simmer to thicken some more. Lower heat to the lowest setting possible without going out entirely.
Take about 1/2 cup of hot bechamel, and pour into egg yolks, and whisk madly. Do not try to add naked egg yolks to the hot bechamel on the stove! This will cause the egg to cook separately, make ugly yellow lumps and all sorts of nastiness. Don’t go there. This step, which sounds silly, will temper the egg yolks, warm them up slightly and let them get used to the hot sauce.
After the egg yolks are combined with the little bit of sauce, pour this mixture into the sauce and add lemon juice and parmesan and whisk like mad over very low heat until you have a thick, pale yellow sauce with cheese and egg perfectly combined.
Season with salt and pepper. Keep lightly warm.
For Assembling the Moussaka:
olive oil or oil spray
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
freshly chopped mint for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease bottom of 13X9″ glass baking pan with olive oil or spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 the breadcrumbs.
Cover the breadcrumbs with a layer of eggplant. Cover the eggplant with a single layer of potatoes.
Top the vegetables with all of the meat and tomato mixture. Cover the meat with a thin layer of bechamel sauce. (The photo shows what this halfway stage of assembly looks like–just barely cover the meat with the sauce.)
Cover the bechamel with a layer of potatoes, then cover the potatoes with a layer of eggplant. Cover this with a generous layer of bechamel, and then sprinkle with all of the parmesan cheese and the remaining breadcrumbs.
Bake for 45 minutes, (25 minutes if you have a convection oven like we do) and then let sit for ten minutes before cutting.
Sprinkle generously with freshly minced mint for garnish before serving.
This is rich, so serve it with a very large, good greens-laden and vegetabliferous Greek salad. For a recipe for same, including the simplest, yet tastiest dressing in the world, come back tomorrow!
"Auntie, you are a good cooker." ~ My nephew, age 5