European (Western and Eastern) Cuisine · Mediterreanean Cuisine

Moussaka

Moussaka – the Greek/Eastern Mediterranean version of Italy’s well-known lasagna. It’s just as hearty and laden with calories but oh so, so good for the soul. The combination of ground beef, sliced eggplant, roasted potatoes mixed with a dash of oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg are a welcome treat for the curious and international taste buds. I dare say it may even be a bit more carb friendly than its Italian counterpart too.

Having unmemorable experiences with bechamel sauce, I was leery of even making it, but hey, if I’m already spending the majority of my Sunday  making one dish, I might as well attempt to make it properly, right?

I scoured recipes until I came across a recipe that caught my eye – the technique was to beat egg whites into the hot mixture of milk, flour, and egg mixture. Doubt immediately set into my mind – wouldn’t the egg whites deflate and I’d be left with a soupy mess?

Apparently I was wrong as you can tell by the picture (not the first time, either). But I really should erase the previous sentence and say I am never, ever wrong.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch even thick slices
  • 2 large potatoes, sliced very thin
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fines herbs (oregano or Italian seasoning will work)
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 eggs, separated.

Bechamel sauce

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • salt to taste
  • ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Equipment:

  • 2 baking sheets
  • 1 9 x 13 baking pan (use a higher pan if you have one)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450F.

Prepare the eggplant and potatoes. Slice eggplant into uniform 1/2 inch lengthwise slices. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture.

While the eggplant is resting or roasting, slice the potatoes very thinly and arrange the slices on a baking sheet so they do not overlap. Brush potatoes with a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkle sparsely with salt on a baking sheet.

On a separate baking sheet, brush the front and back of the eggplant slices with olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet.

Roasted potatoes and eggplant for 15-20 minutes (alternating from front and back and bottom to top half way) until eggplant and potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Reduce heat to 350F

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the ground beef, salt and pepper to taste, onions, and garlic. After the beef is browned, sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, fines herbs and parsley. Pour in the tomato sauce and wine, and mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and then stir in two of the beaten egg yolks.

Prepare the bechamel sauce. To make the bechamel sauce, begin by scalding the milk in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Lower heat; gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Slowly dribble in the remaining beaten egg yolk and whisk until mixture thickens.  Season with salt, and white pepper. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the bechamel sauce.

Arrange the casserole. Arrange a layer of potato slides in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.  Layer the half of the eggplant on top of the potatoes and cover eggplant with all of the meat mixture, and then sprinkle 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese over the meat. Cover with remaining eggplant, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the nutmeg. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until top is golden brown.

Advertisements

One thought on “Moussaka

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s