Greek Moussaka

greek-moussakaMoussaka is a savory Greek casserole. Traditional moussaka is made with ground beef and eggplant, although other vegetables are sometimes used in place of eggplant such as artichokes, zucchini and potatoes, to name a few. The preparation for moussaka is a rather involved process so it is customarily made in large batches, and divided amongst several smaller casserole dishes to freeze for later meals.

INGREDIENTS:

Eggplant and Meat Sauce
5-6 medium globe eggplants
Sea salt, as needed
Olive oil for sautéing and broiling
3 medium sweet Vidalia onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
7 whole garlic cloves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 fresh bay leaves
3 cups ripe tomatoes chopped (or substitute with 3 cups canned tomatoes with the juice)
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup red wine
2 1/2 lbs. ground beef or ground lamb
Grated Kefalotyri cheese

Béchamel Sauce
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
6 cups hot whole milk
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 egg yolks, beaten

METHOD:

Eggplant Preparation

Wash eggplants and trim the steams. Peel off the skin and cut each eggplant lengthwise into 3/8 inch slices. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler to “high.”

Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels. Place eggplant slices on a lightly oiled baking tray. Brush tops with olive oil.

Broil for 10-15 minutes, about 6-8 inches from heating element, until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft. Set aside to cool.

Meat Sauce Preparation

Heat a lightly oiled skillet on medium-low heat. Sauté the onions and the garlic for 10 minutes, or until transparent and soft.

Add the meat and sauté until lightly browned.

Add tomatoes, and sprinkle in half of the breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly.

Add the spices, tomato paste, and wine. Cover the pan and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until all liquids are absorbed. If the mixture still contains liquid, uncover, and cook for an additional 5 minutes until dry. Turn off the heat and set aside uncovered.

Béchamel Sauce Preparation

To save time, prepare the sauce while the meat is simmering.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.

Gradually whisk in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time and whisking until smooth. Repeat until all of the flour is added. Increase the heat to medium-low and slowly add the hot milk whisking constantly, until creamy and thick. Remove from the heat.

Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce to the beaten egg yolks and nutmeg. Then, slowly whisk in egg mixture into the bechamel sauce. Return to the heat and whisk for an additional minute until all ingredients are combined. Set aside to cool.

Assembly:

To save time, preheat the oven to 350°F before you begin assembling the moussaka.

Lightly oil a large baking pan with olive oil. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on the bottom of the pan.

Place one layer (using half of the eggplant slices) on top of the breadcrumbs.

Spread the meat mixture on top of the eggplant and even it out this layer using your hands to pat it to the edge of the pan.

Cover the meat with remaining eggplant slices.

Spread the béchamel sauce on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, and then sprinkle the cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the top becomes golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow the Moussaka to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

SOURCE: A Mideast Feast 

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