The first time I had Moussaka was in Greece. On my trip last summer, I probably sampled most of the cuisine Greece has to offer, such as gyros, spanakopita, tzatziki, souvlaki, baklava, stuffed grape leaves and even ouzo. I also gained about 10 pounds sampling all this cuisine. But on the last day of the trip, in Athens, I realized that I went the whole week without trying Moussaka.
(My first and only taste of real Grecian Moussaka)
I have always had an indifferent relationship with eggplant or "aubergine." I don't like it, but I don't hate it either. The sliminess kind of bothers me too. When I went to order Moussaka, I figured the eggplant would be masked so well in layers of lamb, potato and béchamel sauce that I wouldn't even notice it. Well, I did notice the eggplant, but I also noticed the delicious creaminess of the sauce, the hearty potatoes, the savoury lamb, and somehow the eggplant fit nicely in there, almost indifferent: it wasn't too noticeable, but it needed to be there.
I had some leftover eggplant from my dinner party on Sunday, so I decided to recreate my Moussaka experience. A traditional Moussaka has many layers, but I only made one layer of everything because I only had half of an eggplant left. The ingredient sizes will make one layer in a lasagna pan (more than enough for 2 people).
Beef Moussaka4-5 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 cup of ground beef or lamb
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 onion, peeled and diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup of canned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to season
For the béchamel sauce, I used Delia Smith's recipe from "How to Cook: Volume 1:"425 ml milk
1 bay leaf
a few whole black peppercorns (5-10)
1 slice of onion
1 1/2 oz butter
3/4 oz flour
salt and pepper
Directions:Add the milk, bay leaf, peppercorns and onion (you can also add parsley stalks and powdered mace) to a pot and bring slowly to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain the milk and take out the spices. Put the milk in a separate bowl or cup on the side.
Add the butter to the pot and heat until melted. Add the flour, then add the milk a little bit at a time until thick.
While you are making the sauces, place the eggplant and potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
For the beef sauce, add onions and garlic to a pan and sauté until golden.
Add the ground beef and cook until brown.
Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato paste and let the sauce thicken over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
To assemble the Moussaka, grease the pan, then add the potatoes, eggplant, beef sauce then béchamel sauce. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until the sauce browns on top.
Serve with the remaining red wine ;)
I used this and this recipe. Next time I might try mashing the potatoes, so everything sticks together better. Mine didn't quite have distinct layers when I served it. I thought it tasted amazing. Opa!
Tomorrow is the last day to vote for Challenge #3 of Project Food Blog. Check out my luxury "tea" party and please vote here. Please help me get to the Top 100!