I have mentioned Moussaka a long time ago in a post. If you’ve never had it, I dare say it’s a Greek Lasagna, and it’s absolutely delicious. Moussaka is layered with potatoes, eggplant, red meat sauce and a luxurious Bechamel sauce to top it off. I refer to it as a labor of love because it is. It takes the better part of the day to make it. However, at the end of the day, you have an entire casserole of it!
There are a few tricks to making this marvelous dish. Egg plant in any dish can be pretty gross if you don’t cook it right. It can be mushy and bitter and quite unappetizing. A huge trick a co-worker taught me was to salt the eggplant. It sounds weird, but salting the peeled and sliced eggplant actually draws the water out. I put paper towels on several baking sheets and salted both sides of the eggplant slices. Then I left them alone for about 30 minutes.
Can you see that moisture glistening? After all that water came out, I blotted/pressed the eggplant with more paper towels to soak up the moisture. I then threw all the paper towels out and sprayed the eggplant slices and potato slices with olive oil spray. The potato slices and eggplant got baked. The sauces were prepared and a huge mess was made with pots, measuring cups, etc.
All that was left was to assemble the potatoes, eggplant, meat sauce and bechamel sauce and to bake it. My casserole dish was so full I put it on a baking sheet in case it bubbled over during the baking process.
Several hours after starting this dish, it was ready to cut into.
This Moussaka is as good as ones I’ve eaten in Greektown in Detroit. All the flavors marry together so well. It’s delightfully rich without being heavy. There are a lot of places in the original recipe I found that used large amounts of unnecessary butter. I cut that butter out and I know we don’t miss it! The eggplant is not soppy, the potatoes are tender and all of the spices and cheese lend a flavorful Greek lasagna.
Adapted from: Allrecipes.com
2 potatoes, sliced thin
3 eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 pound lean ground beef
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
2 onions, chopped
3 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups milk
6 tbsp butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (You can also use Feta here)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions (Preheat oven to 450)
- Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Spray eggplant with some olive oil spray bake at 450 til soft (15-20 minutes). Spray potato slices with olive oil spray and bake for 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 350. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, salt and pepper to taste, add onions, and garlic. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, Italian seasoning and parsley. Pour in the tomato sauce and wine, and mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then stir in 1 beaten egg.
- 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 until it thickens. Season with salt, and white pepper. Allow to cool, and then stir in 2 egg yolks, mix well. Fold in 2 egg whites beaten to stiffness.
- Arrange a layer of potatoes, on the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Layer the half of the eggplant next. 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.