Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Moussaka (Greek "lasagne")

My introduction to moussaka happened on my first trip to Greece in 2000, and I've been hooked ever since (both to the dish and to Greek food in general).  If you google "moussaka recipe"you'll get about a bazillion different versions of this very famous and popular dish; some use potatoes, others only eggplant, some include zucchini or other vegetables.  I've tried loads of different recipes over the years and here's my favourite version, it uses mixed beans which makes it lighter and not so "meaty", but just as delicious and filling as the original.  You could even try sneaking in some finely chopped vegies.

Base Ingredients:

1kg mince (lamb is the authentic way but you can use any mince eg: pork, veal, beef, even turkey!)
two large eggplants (or 3-4 smaller ones)
1 large jar passata (Italian tomato sauce)
1 can of mixed beans
1/2 cup water
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 brown onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Bechamel topping Ingredients

100g salted butter
100g plain flour
600ml full cream milk
2 eggs (lightly whisked)
Grated cheese

Make Base:

Put onions and garlic in hot pan and sautĂ© til tender, then add mince and brown.  Add passata, beans and water, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice, stir and turn heat right down to lowest setting.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the sauce is very thick (may take up to two hours). 

Meanwhile, cook the eggplant: slice into ½ cm slices and fry until just softened – I use the “George Foreman” grill without any oil.  BBQ also works well and adds a nice smoky flavour. 

Next, make the topping…

Make Bechamel topping:

Put butter and flour into large saucepan and melt, stirring, until combined and the mixture bubbles and changes colour.  It should go from light brown, to a cream colour, then back to a caramel colour.  This takes around five minutes, keep stirring while this happens.  Add all the milk and use a whisk to combine it together.  Let it heat, whisking every minute or two, until the mixture starts to thicken to a creamy consistency.  Add eggs and whisk again, at this point the mixture should thicken up a lot.  Once that happens, remove from heat, and add a sprinkle of nutmeg and white pepper for flavour.

Assemble Moussaka:

Divide eggplant into three batches, divide mince mix into two batches.

Put one layer of eggplant on the base of a large casserole dish, then put a layer of mince on top.  Add another layer of eggplant, and another layer of mince.  Finish with the last of the eggplant, then top with bĂ©chamel topping, and grate some cheese over the top.


Bake in a hot oven (180 degrees C) until brown on top, approx 25 minutes.

Disclaimer: NOT the most aesthetically pleasing dish this blog has seen, but as we know, looks can be very deceiving.  Especially where food is concerned.

1 comment:

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